Milly was fascinated by Annette LeBlanc Cole's The Magic Rabbit (Candlewick, 2007) earlier this fall. It's a story about a street magician (Ray) and his white rabbit (Bunny), who are separated during a performance; that night, Bunny follows a trail of gold stars (and popcorn) that leads to a reunion with Ray. A perfectly nice book; but I wasn't sure right away what it was about it that fascinated Milly.
We borrowed it from her preschool teacher and read it countless times over a long weekend. It held up to repeated readings well, thankfully; but it was the artwork, I think, that did it: elegant pen-and-ink illustrations, most of them of the city (Cambrige, MA?) at night--lit up by many magic yellow stars. There don't seem to be many picture books illustrated in black-and-white, but it works wonderfully well here.
The Magic Rabbit inspired a lot of art projects at home, too: Milly made her own magicians with silver crayon on black construction paper, and rabbits with gold on white. We cut out a handful of yellow stars and scattered them around the house. I even made a black magician's cape with a high stand-up collar just like Ray's, and a magic wand (I didn't get to the hat, though). We gave the cape, wand, and stars to the preschool when we returned the book, so everyone could pretend to be a magician.
[See also The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson; illustrated in black-and-white scratchboard with touches of "marigold" by Beth Krommes (Houghton Mifflin, 2008) and one of PW's Best Children's Picture Books of the Year. It's a beautiful bedtime book, based on a cumulative poem found in The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book. I love the way the marigold highlights objects that are familiar yet fascinating to a preschooler--a key, a book, a bird, the moon. And I've always loved Krommes's work; this post on Grandmother Winter is from this time last year.]