Marc Simont, a much-honored and much-loved illustrator, has written The Lovely Summer, a story that is as delectably funny as his expressive watercolor illustrations. Gladys and Jerome are cottontail rabbits who peer from the woods with mild curiosity at the antics of a pair of humans who are planting a garden near their cottage. Along with their lively brood of baby bunnies, the two rabbits explore the garden as it grows, exclaiming with courteous kindness of the vegetable-providing humans. In the background, the frantic humans tear their hair, writhe in frustration, set traps, and even stalk the rabbits with a rifle while their prey casually ignore every obstacle and eat their fill of veggies.
Children delight in this kind of getting-the-joke-on-the-big-guys irony, and Simont’s illustrations make the most of the fun. The gardeners are so comically distraught — and the rabbits are so adorably innocent — that adults won’t mind rereading this gem all summer long. A+