When Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi set about to write The Rabbit & The Squirrel, he probably did it with the intention of simply narrating a story that holds a mirror to certain truths, but this little book does a lot more than that. Written as a picture book marketed for adults, here are six reasons why The Rabbit & The Squirrel should be on your bookshelves right away!
Relatable as Hell
Shanghvi isn’t trying to weave mystical stories about tales from yore. Instead, he writes about experiences everyone has had at some point in their lives. Friendships that break and mend with time, romances that crumble when tested, and societal ideologies that govern the lives of those trying to live to the fullest.
Whimsy Meets Reality
Shanghvi, with his use of woodland creatures, narrates a tale that is all too prevalent in the Indian society. He uses a whimsical background to paint the truth that many families and friends live, and provides a perspective that may not necessarily be seen by those looking at such relationships from the outside.
Because “love” Spelled Any Other Way is Love
The book explores the varying realms of love, including friendship, family, evolving relationships, and sexuality. Some expected and some not, he touches upon love and how it changes things with relationships, and presents unlikely relations that may or may not stand the test of time. While discussing sexuality, he talks about how things may not be what they seem, and that it’s never fair to just assume gender and sexual roles.
Shanghvi is honest about difficult tropes like marital abuse, platonic friendships, arranged marriage, classism, hypocrisy in religious establishments, and the wrath of time. While discussing platonic friendships, love, and carefree lifestyles, he also touches upon issues that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find in a picture book. With a rabbit and a squirrel as the protagonists.
Short and Sweet
Shanghvi doesn’t beat around the bush. He doesn’t make the reader work for the story. The story’s relatability also makes it a quick read that makes you introspect once you’ve turned the last page. While succinct in nature, he presents many different ideas that leave you thinking about the society and culture we’ve grown up in, and how even though so much has changed, there’s still so much that stays the same.
More than Words
Stina Wirsen, the illustrator, uses her own unique style to bring the characters and moments in the story to life. The paintings weave in and out of the story to fill the spaces the words leave behind. With a mix of watercolour and illustration, she depicts the characters in their raw forms, as the environment around them changes just as they do.
Shanghvi hits the right notes while attempting to balance heavy topics with light notes. This book leaves you with a lot of thoughts, but also a little smile on your face. Because who doesn’t like reading about woodland creatures, even if they may represent real people like you and me?
You can purchase your own copy of The Rabbit & The Squirrel here.