The Rabbit Problem by Emily Gravett

Once again, Emily Gravett slays me with the combination of cleverness plus rabbits. This book is amazing, from the endpapers on, and it’s full of so many smart and hilarious details. At its most basic level, the premise is simple: it’s a visual representation of Fibonacci’s Rabbit Problem. If you need a refresher, it’s nicely summed up like this by Dr Ron Knott:

Suppose a newly-born pair of rabbits, one male, one female, are put in a field. Rabbits are able to mate at the age of one month so that at the end of its second month a female can produce another pair of rabbits. Suppose that our rabbits never die and that the female always produces one new pair (one male, one female) every month from the second month on. The puzzle that Fibonacci posed was…

How many pairs will there be in one year?

Gravett isn’t just concerned about the numbers, though: she shows the rabbits themselves, a whole rabbit society stuck playing by Fibonacci’s rules (one of which is that no rabbits can leave the field) and what the consequences of rapid population growth are. But putting it that way doesn’t quite get across the playfulness of the whole thing. The book’s set up as a calendar, where each month is described as some variation on “The Rabbit Problem”—so January, with just one rabbit in the field (Gravett starts at the very beginning of Fibonacci’s sequence, rather than starting with two bunnies right away as described above) is “The Lonely Rabbit Problem.” February, with two rabbits, is “The Cold Rabbit Problem,” and so on. Throughout, the calendar is layered with art and hand-lettered words and more: February includes a list of “Ways to stay warm” (“Knit a sweater, Hop, Think warm thoughts, Snuggle up”); August includes a reminder to “Buy sunscreen.” And there are fold-out or pop-out elements, too: an invitation, a faux knitting pattern, a bunny-authored/edited newspaper, a cookbook full of rabbit-focused recipes involving carrots. And oh, the bunnies themselves. They’re wonderful: big-eyed, pink-nosed, hilariously expressive even when the field starts getting crowded.

And did I mention it’s really really funny? The faux knitting pattern (for an orange-and-white bunny-eared sweater) includes things like: “Tension: There will probably be a lot” and a list of abbreviations that includes things like “ht = have a cup of tea” in addition to the expected “k = knit” and “p = purl.” The rabbit newspaper includes an article on the problem of boredom plaguing the field, and says that “younger rabbits are taking up vandalism and gamboling to fill their days.” Gamboling! Ha!

Meanwhile, it’s January 14th, and this is the last of the three library books I’d had checked out since before December 31st. Which means that it’s now time to turn my attention to my own shelves, since I’m trying to stick to the rules of the TBR Double Dare between now and April. No more exceptions. Here goes!

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