Gildaen: The Heroic Adventures of a Most Unusual Rabbit by Emilie Buchwald and illustrated by Barbara Flynn
This is an imaginative, enchanting fantasy chapter book published in the 1970s that will appeal to fans of The Hobbit. Gildaen is a rabbit who longs for adventure, unlike other rabbits who are content to stay home. When Gildaen comes upon an owl, he fears he will become the owl’s meal, but the creature turns out to be under an enchantment – he can’t remember who he is, but he has the power to transform into any creature. He transforms into a prince called Evon and Gildaen accompanies him on his quest to discover who he really is. Along the way, they meet Hickory, a servant of the young king, who has been ostracized from the castle. The king is under the sway of an evil sorcerer called Grimald, who is bent on taking over the kingdom. Evon and Gildaen team up with Hickory to save the kingdom and expose Grimald. In the process, Evon gifts Gildaen with the ability to communicate with other animals and transforms him into other creatures, including a cat, hawk, and snake. The group’s adventures are exciting and the ending is satisfying, with happy endings for all the characters and no overt violence, making it appropriate for reading aloud to younger children or independent reading for older children.