It’s no secret that I love rabbits. I was browsing the graphic novel section in a book store the other day and I saw this book and was immediately captivated by the artwork. I love graphic novels, and one of my all time favourite books is Watership Down, so a book featuring bunnies living in their own society had me hook, line and sinker.
“Cottons: The Secret of the Wind” is a graphic novel written by Jim Pascoe and illustrated by Heidi Arnhold. The first in the series, the story follows a young brown rabbit called Bridgebelle who works in a carrot factory and who cares for her ailing aunty. Bridgebelle’s job is to help convert carrots into cha, the energy that powers the Vale of Industry. Although she dreams of being an artist, using cha to make beautiful objects called thokcha, she is tied to the factory in order to support her aunty. However when her friend Croquet goes missing and the foxes who covet the cha grow more bold and more dangerous, Bridgebelle’s abilities and her tragic past can no longer go ignored.
This review is going to be full of rabbit photos.
This is a beautifully illustrated book with great character design and worldbuilding. Bridgebelle is an enigmatic, lonely young rabbit who is struggling to find her way in an increasingly dangerous world. I particularly liked the character Glee who seems particularly complex, and I enjoyed the worldbuilding and the steampunk vibe of the Vale of Industry. I also really liked Samiji, a brave and fiery young rabbit who joins the sect of rabbits who dedicate their life to windism. For a more detailed insight into the world of Lavender, there is a bit of a fictional overview of the history, society and culture at the back of the book.
I think some of the things that felt a little underdone were the foxes as antagonists and the concept of cha. Cha seems to at once be a power source, a material for making art, a narcotic and a potential weapon. I’m not always into high fantasy with super complex magic systems, but I did feel a little like cha needed a bit more explanation or at least something to pique the interest of the reader and make them curious to read more. There was some of that detail in the section at the back, but I think I would have liked it woven into the story a little more. I also didn’t quite get how the foxes could be so malignant and powerful, yet not be able to simply walk in and take over the factory.
Ori’s review was not as glowing as mine
A beautifully rendered story that perhaps leaves the reader with more questions than answers, I will be keeping an eye out for the second volume.
Cottons: The Secret of the Wind
It’s no secret how I feel about rabbits, so I thought I’d do a special little review for Easter and review one of my favourite childhood books.
“The Veleveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams and illustrated by William Nicholson is a children’s chapter book about a toy rabbit who longs to be real. His friend, the Skin Horse, explains nursery magic to him and how a toy comes to be real through the love of a child. After a perfect summer as the Boy’s favourite, the Boy falls ill and the Velveteen Rabbit’s future is no longer certain.
I had this story on audiobook as a child, and reading this brought me straight back to being snuggled up in bed with my own menagerie of toys listening to a voice explaining to me how it was they became real. I was in tears almost the entire way through reading this book. If I have children, I will definitely read them this book if I can get through it without becoming choked up with emotion. It really is an absolute classic story, as relevant now as it was then. In fact, it is incredible that a story published 96 years ago now doesn’t have anything in it that would be considered inappropriate today. Williams has such a wonderful style of writing that manages to convey so much yet remain in childlike simplicity.
The copy I have, which is styled as ‘The Original Edition’, is interspersed with striking images in red, yellow and baby blue. These lithographs aren’t in a colour scheme I would ordinarily associate with children’s books, but they actually work really well. They give a warm vibrancy to the story and Nicholson captures the messiness of life and love as a child’s beloved soft toy.
I really cannot recommend this book enough. If you’re looking for an Easter story, or a story for any occasion for a child, you cannot go wrong with this one.
I have been trying to get my hands on this book for ages. When I first started getting into graphic novels years ago, “The Saga of Rex” by Michel Gagné was one of the earliest ones I bought. I really loved his soft, cartoony style, gorgeous rendering and dreamy landscapes. I’m also absolutely obsessed with rabbits. When I found out that he had a book called “Insanely Twisted Rabbits”, I had to have it, but couldn’t find a copy anywhere. I even tried to get into contact with the artist himself, but with no success. Then recently, while browsing my favourite secondhand book store, I noticed that they’d had a big influx of graphic novels. Flicking through the titles I was absolutely stunned to see none other than a copy of “Insanely Twisted Rabbits”! I bought it immediately.
This book is pretty self-explanatory. It is literally a book filled with illustrations of the most ridiculous rabbit-like monsters imaginable. In the foreword, Gagné explains that back in his animation days, he and his colleague used to compete together drawing rabbits of more and more ridiculous proportions. He ended up collating all the drawings and putting them together in a book.
Anyway, there’s no story, no plot, no characters. This is simply a book full of weird rabbits and it was right up my alley. If you are also partial to weird rabbits, I would suggest you check it out.