The Flat Rabbit

The Flat Rabbit

The Flat Rabbit

Bárður Oskarsson





When a dog and a rat come upon a rabbit flattened on the road in their neighborhood, they contemplate her situation, wondering what they should do to help her.



Upon seeing a flattened rabbit on the road, a dog and rat try to honor her in this secular story about compassion and respect.

Walking along, a dog notices something; a rat stops, too. As they stare at a carcass in the street, a halting, awkward conversation ensues. Together, the dog and rat contemplate the rabbit’s existence—and what to do for her now. With a plan in place, the two gently peel the rabbit off the road and bring her to the dog’s house, where they work all night long. In the morning, they reveal a kite, with the rabbit attached. After much effort, the kite is airborne, and as it soars, they wonder if the rabbit is enjoying herself. Not sure of the answer, they let go, and the kite flies aloft, up and over the city. The artist’s pencil, pen and watercolor illustrations are raw and spare. Done in a faded, pastel palette, they thoughtfully convey different perspectives from both the visual and narrative standpoints. Although they depict a gruesome subject (roadkill), there’s nothing grotesque about the images. Spot illustrations on the left-side pages give context to the animals’ environment or foreshadow events to come. Oskarsson offers a pleasing vision of the afterlife, as the dog and rat try to give the rabbit a gift—an experience it didn’t have during its lifetime.

As perfectly, honestly childlike in its approach as Margaret Wise Brown and Remy Charlip’s classicThe Dead Bird, this title should provoke both thought and discussion. (Picture book. 4-7)

Amazon Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 1–3—Spare illustrations by the author are the highlight of this quirky picture book dealing with the death of a neighbor. Pen-and-ink and watercolor pictures in blue and brown show a pot-bellied dog and a kinky-tailed rat contemplating a dead rabbit lying in the street, clearly flattened by a large vehicle. The two ponder what they should do with the dead animal: “Where could they move her? And what if somebody found her and ate her?” Deciding on a plan to send her to a better place, they tape her to a kite and sail her aloft. Readers might cringe as the rat and dog gently peel the dead rabbit, pink tongue lolling, off the pavement. Although the author may have intended to spark readers’ compassion, the bizarre decision about what to do with the rabbit is odd and may have trouble finding an appreciative audience.—Maryann H. Owen, Children’s Literature Specialist, Mt. Pleasant, WI
“It’s unusually corporeal . . . but it’s this very tactile wrestling with death that feels so honest.”
– Booklist, starred review
“A quietly profound new picture book”
— Maria Russo, New York Times

“A jumping-off point to explore death and compassion.”
– Travis Jonker, 100 Scope Notes

“A masterwork of minimalist storytelling… full of quiet wit and wistful wonder.”
– Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

“Run, don’t walk, to get a look at [TheFlat Rabbit. Be sure to look both ways before crossing the street … The text and the artwork, which are deadpan (pun intended) and charming, are open to many interpretations.”
– Hicklebee’s Bookstore, San Jose, CA

Amazon Reader Review

This is a very short but charming story. Two well meaning passers by find an unfortunate victim of a traffic incident. Their reaction is a thought provoking exploration of what happens to us after we are gone. It is told in kind, sensitive manner and would be a good way to introduce young ones to the idea that we are not here forever. The end of the story lets your imagination work a bit. This serves to make the story more universal and appealing. While it seems to have been written for small children I found it moving nonetheless.