The Remarkable Rescue at Milkweed Meadow

By Elaine Dimopoulos, illustrated by Doug Salati. Charlesbridge, 2023. 192 pages. $17.99/hardcover; $9.99/eBook. Recommended for ages 8–11.

Illustrated with Doug Salati’s graphite and gouache illustrations, The Remarkable Rescue at Milkweed Meadow by Elaine Dimopoulos is short and sweet. It is, at its heart, a story about storytelling. Butternut, a young rabbit from a family of storytellers, draws the reader’s attention to various literary devices throughout her narration. You know from the beginning that there is going to be a rescue, but you don’t know when, who, or how until the very end. Butternut reassures you along the way, though, that it is coming and that it is going to be big.

The rescue, while big and surprising, is only a small part of the story. The larger focus of the story is Butternut’s experience creating a community with those outside of her small, safe family. While Butternut sometimes struggles with “brambles” (anxious thoughts) and is taught that her main goal is to “stay alive,” she finds herself wandering away from her home one day and meeting a baby robin. This brave and outgoing fledgling continually pushes Butternut outside her comfort zone, showing her there is much more to discover out there in the meadow (and woods) when she is willing to leave the safety of her family burrow.

Butternut has been raised with the understanding that everything and everyone that is not a rabbit is a threat. Throughout the story, she challenges this. She slowly becomes part of a larger community, learning that just because someone is different does not mean they are dangerous. In fact, a found and chosen family can be just as strong as the family you are born into, and just as important. This message, especially for anxious children growing up in an increasingly divisive world, is the part of the story that most resonated with me. Elaine Dimopoulos weaves this message into a fun, adventurous story that children will love, with a main character that everyone will be rooting for. I look forward to the sequel, The Perilous Performance at Milkweed Meadow, to be released on May 21.

Julia Copelend teaches at Greene Street Friends School in Philadelphia, Pa.

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