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ADELAIDE'S SECRET WORLD by Elise Hurst Kirkus Star


by Elise Hurst ; illustrated by Elise Hurst

Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5247-1454-3
Publisher: Knopf

Amid a teeming city, bustling with smartly dressed bears, foxes, cats, humans, and ostriches, rabbit Adelaide spends each day alone in her workshop safely behind a soft, red curtain.

This rabbit’s sensitivity, her glistening, emotive eyes, and her pert ears bring to mind other anthropomorphized bunnies: Margery Williams and William Nicholson’s Velveteen Rabbit, Beatrix Potter’s rabbit broods, DuBose Heyward and Marjorie Flack’s country bunny and her little gold shoes, and even the psychological complexity of the scrambling rabbits of Watership Down. Moving, impressionistic oil paintings endow Adelaide with the same searing sentience, pathos, and intellect of these antecedents. Her wrenching isolation, loneliness, and ultimate desire for connection make this picture book perfectly suited for older readers. Fantastic flourishes will appeal to children of all ages; fish and sailboats fly through the streets, animals populate an urban city center, while a fox and Adelaide unknowingly document each other’s lives through art. When a storm blows, forcing them to collide, readers’ human hearts sing. Masterful artwork, streaked with breathtaking brush strokes and daubs of pigment, easily makes up for sometimes-unimaginative language. These portraits of animals struggling with human feelings startle with their emotional exactitude, empathy, and expert execution.

Complex feelings articulated through heart-rending paintings that beg return visits.

(Picture book. 5-14)