Book Review: Follow the Firefly / Run Rabbit Run, by Bernardo Carvalho

Available in selected bookstores nationwide.cv_follow_the_Firefly

Book Island brings us another wordless children’s book: Follow the Firefly / Run Rabbit Run by Bernardo Carvalho, who is one of the founding illustrators of the Portuguese publishing house Planeta Tangerina. Planeta Tangerina won the Best European Children’s Publisher Award at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in 2012.

Follow the Firefly / Run Rabbit Run feels like a lesson in attention. The book has vibrant watercolour illustrations, and all of the animals have a bug-eyed wonder about them. With two titles and two covers, the book can be read from either the front or back.

Starting from the front, the story opens with a firefly asking the question ‘Excuse me, have you seen a flashing light?’ We follow the firefly to a campfire where a group of bears, dogs, foxes, and birds are happily toasting food. The firefly doesn’t join in − he sits to one side, his mouth turned down under a wonderfully long red nose. As the story progresses we follow the firefly through the forest where he talks to an owl, a crocodile, a gorilla, and a frog − all of them pointing him in the same direction. Eventually he reaches a town, where he’s directed to a traffic light. A heart appears in the firefly’s eye: he’s in love.

Reading from the back cover, we see a white rabbit escape from a cage on the back of a truck. The book instructs: ‘Follow the rabbit!’ By following this character, a different story emerges from the same pages. The rabbit dashes through crowded city streets, swims across a river, and is chased by a dog through the forest. Eventually she hides behind a huge but friendly gorilla! The tables are now turned – the dog is lost in the forest. His eyes fill with tears and he curls up on the forest floor. Will the white rabbit take pity on the dog? She does, and the two animals join the group at the campfire.

As with the white rabbit in Alice of Wonderland, the rabbit and firefly of Follow the Firefly / Run Rabbit Run lead the reader into a surreal world. While the illustrations are colourful, the forest is also dark and murky. There are red outlines of different creatures, as if to suggest something ghostly. On one page a ladybird has a woman’s head. The dog is also vicious, with black-rimmed eyes, sharp teeth, and a red nose. In this way, the book has just enough scare factor to thrill a child.

As with The Lazy Friend, the absence of words allows each page to be a story on its own: it can be read from either the rabbit or the firefly’s perspective, and there are many other animals and details to look at.

Follow the Firefly / Run Rabbit Run is a clever and colourful book that is sure to be read countless times.

Reivewed by Sarah Jane Barnett in tandem with The Lazy Friend.

Follow the Firefly / Run Rabbit Run
by Bernardo Carvalho
Published by Book Island
ISBN 9780994109828

1 thought on “Book Review: Follow the Firefly / Run Rabbit Run, by Bernardo Carvalho

  1. Pingback: December colours | the red room

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