Book Review

A Dare for a Hare – Blog Tour

A Dare for a Hare


I’m Harvey, so there! As brave as a bear!
Nothing can scare me. I’m the world’s bravest hare!

Harvey the hare sets out to prove that he’s as brave as a bear in this warm and heart-felt story. But little does he know that his big brother Buster is right there behind him every step of the way . . .

This feel-good rhyming tale of brotherly love is perfect for fans of Giraffes Can’t Dance and The Lion Inside.

My Review

My daughter will be ten this year, so, this time around, she read the book to me. [Don’t worry, I’m not crying in a corner over the fact that she’s growing up.] Afterwards, I read it back to her, just for old time’s sake where picture books are concerned.

The cover and overall artwork of this is gorgeous and the hares are so wonderfully drawn and it’s easy for tiny ones to focus on while you read to them.

Another thing I loved was the rhyming scheme, it makes it so much easier, in my opinion, to read little ones books that rhyme so that you can have a nice flow while you read. The font is easy to read and I loved the pages with the bear the most, my child always enjoys doing the sound effects for me, so she enjoyed those pages the most as well.

The adventures of the two hares are precious and the sibling love was a nice centre and ending to it. It’s sure to be a favourite with young children, and a treasured bedtime story to look back on even when they’ve grown. [My daughter really loved this book as well]

Thanks so much to the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Four large cups of ‘hot chocolate’ from the kid and I!

More About the Art

Illustrator Layn Marlow talks about… 

Preparatory Artwork

There’s so much in this fabulous story by Charlie Farley: hair-raising adventure and quiet moments of intimacy, dramatic landscapes and cosy hollows, two endearing hares and one scary bear! It really is a tale of contrasts, so I knew it would be a joy – and a challenge – to illustrate.

© Layn Marlow, 2019. Sketchbook details for A Dare for a Hare, by Charlie Farley and Layn Marlow, Orchard Books

I started by trying to get a feel for the setting; looking at photos of rocky gorges, open plains and Californian fruit farms. (Peaches helped me find a colour palette.) I sketched chickens, coops and waterfalls, and even American eagles until I was sure I had a sense of place. As is often the case, after focusing on such details, the world I eventually cooked up was far more stylised – not specific to any part of our real world, but somehow I had needed those ingredients.

© Layn Marlow 2019. Preparatory sketch for A Dare for a Hare, by Charlie Farley and Layn Marlow, Orchard Books

The balance between ‘real’ and ’stylised’ was even more delicate when it came to depicting the animals. I knew Charlie Farley’s writing was inspired by the natural world, so the predatory behaviour of Cat and Bear were perfectly normal. Normal, but fairly scary if you’re invested in the emotional lives of their prey! The only course was to play it straight and keep the predators as naturalistic as possible. Whilst the hares themselves needed some degree of stylisation, (more of that in another blog!) Bear is a force of nature to be avoided, like the rushing creek he eventually falls into.

The final challenge was uniting characters with the setting. The bravery of the young hares is underscored, by the great distance they cover on their adventure, but equally important is the detail of their actions and the brotherly bond between them. So distant vistas had to combine with close-up depictions of behaviour.

Layn Marlow 2019. 4cm x 7cm thumbnail sketch for pages 4-5 of A Dare for a Hare, by Charlie Farley and Layn Marlow, Orchard Books

As always, I made tiny thumbnail sketches, to help me work out the composition of each spread. More detailed drawings followed as I considered colours and materials. The far-reaching landscape and skies were rendered in watercolour and I used a combination of paints and coloured pencils to depict the main action. This often takes place in the sunlit mid-ground, just beyond darker foreground features, rendered in gouache. As well as sometimes providing space for text, these framing features aim to draw the reader into the picture, like the silhouettes in our last book, A T-Wit for a T-Woo (Orchard Books, 2018).

© Layn Marlow 2019. Colour rough for pages 4-5 of A Dare for a Hare, by Charlie Farley and Layn Marlow, Orchard Books

 Throughout this process, I was lucky to be guided by Hachette’s amazing designer, Grahame Lyus. The author himself was also on hand, to help me with suggestions – a rare resource for most picture book illustrators. So I needn’t have worried about the ‘hare-raising’ challenge! With the preparatory artwork done, the final work of illustrating went as harmoniously as Harvey and Buster’s relationship, at the end of their exciting story!

Caption: © Layn Marlow 2019. Finished pages 4-5 from A Dare for a Hare, by Charlie Farley and Layn Marlow, Orchard Books]

By TheCaffeinatedReader

A Caffeinated Reader and Musician, destined to write lacklustre book reviews with the over-ample amount of free time.

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