OK. Let me just get it out there…
About 10 years ago I wrote a children’s story about a boy and his snit. The snit is disembodied from the boy; it’s an actual thing that he gets in and out of, and it gets bigger or smaller depending on the severity of the provocation. My intention was to illustrate the damn thing, but it never got past the ‘why don’t I clean out my closet’ stage of the creative process. Now, here is a book, Big Rabbit’s Bad Mood, which is similar in the sense that the rabbit’s bad mood is an externalized grey thing that follows him around, “lying in his living room, on his sofa, picking its nose and wiping its boogers on his carpet.” No boogers in my book, but you see my point. And…Big Rabbit’s Bad Mood is truly wonderful; funny…silly, and the illustrations are, well, the illustrations are done.
Delphine Durand is a French artist who has a particular and admirable talent for noses. Durand’s illustrations of pendulous probosci are what attracted me to her previous books, Beetle Boy and Peter Claus and the Naughty List. It’s a peculiar thing to possess such skill in the humourous depiction of noses, but it’s just one part of a larger gift for characterization. Her little creatures, beetles, dolls, children, rabbits, to name a few, are crazy funny and deliciously strange. Delphine is one of those artists whose stylistic influence is so strong you can see it creeping into other peoples work. But then, she keeps exceeding herself, as in Big Rabbit’s Bad Mood.
First, there is the cover. Who can resist a big, pink book with a disgruntled bunny on the front? Open the pages, and you meet the Bad Mood, who looks like an expelled fur ball, following Big Rabbit around, eating his cactus, messing up his closet, and wreaking havoc with his life. Big Rabbit calls his friend Squirrel for help, but when Squirrel doesn’t answer the phone, he figures it’s because of his Bad Mood. No one wants to be around him, which is not an unrealistic assessment of the situation, judging by my own experience.
Just a side note, the character of Big Rabbit has to be male, because if he were female, the bad mood would take on a whole other level of meaning, and who wants to read a book called Big Rabbit and the Pre-menstrual Syndrome? And frankly, any visual interpretation of a PMS would be a definite story-time killer for children. Anyway, Big Rabbit gets so tired of Bad Mood that he has a brilliant idea; he makes a path of arrows to the door, with the intention of leading the Bad Mood out of his life. While he’s busy putting his plan into action, there is a knock on the door. All of his friends have arrived, with a ‘cake made out of pancakes.’ In the middle of the party Big Rabbit realizes he’s forgotten about his Bad Mood, who has disappeared. I get it. Don’t give the Bad Mood power. And…all problems can be solved with a cake made out of pancakes.
The author of Big Rabbit’s Bad Mood is Ramona Badescu, which coincidentally is also the name of a famous international model. I discovered this when I googled her name and images of a dark-haired and obviously well-endowed beauty appeared on my screen. I’m not saying authors can’t be beautiful (or well-endowed), but it’s unlikely that the publicity photos accompanying the release of a children’s book would include so much cleavage. Then again, with dwindling promotional funds available, authors and illustrators might have to step into unchartered territory to sell their books. However, this is not the same person. Ramona Badescu, author, is Romanian by birth and now lives in Marseille, but beyond that, I’m afraid I don’t know. There is very little online, although I admit I got tired of scrolling through the model’s many, many sites. Suffice to say, Ramona Badescu, author, is a very clever person who has provided the perfect venue for Delphine Durand’s warped visuals. And even though she’s written a story similar to my own unpublished effort, I forgive her. Who needs a Bad Mood, especially when there are cakes made out of pancakes to eat?
Big Rabbit’s Bad Mood by Ramona Badescu (not the model), illustrated by Delphine Durand Chronicle Books, 2009 ISBN: 978-0811866668
Beetle Boy (to be reviewed) by Lawrence David (insp by Kafka), illustrated by Delphine Durand Doubleday, 1999
Peter Claus and the Naughty List by Lawrence David, illustrated by Delphine Durand Doubleday, 2000