Breaking News
More () »

How a chance encounter led a Maine writer to 'maybe the most meaningful book I ever wrote'

'I was lucky,' she says, 'to be in the right place and time.'

PORTLAND, Maine — “I LOVED rabbits when I was little,” Tonya Shevenell confides. “I thought about them, drew them, talked about them, and wanted to talk TO them.”

No surprise, then, that Shevenell has now written a children’s book called “Hop Onward Rabbit Rabbit,” the story of a lonely New England cottontail on a quest to find others of its kind. The inspiration for the book came to her early in the COVID-19 pandemic, when she saw a rabbit outdoors one day —an occurrence that is exceedingly rare.

“The odds are stacked against New England cottontails,” she says. “They live in parts of New England and eastern New York. Biologists estimate there are around 300 or so in Maine. I was lucky to be in the right place and time to meet one.”

Shevenell was already working on another book when she encountered that rabbit. It didn’t take long for her to ditch that story and get to work on what would become “Hop Onward Rabbit Rabbit.”

“Here’s the book I didn’t mean to write,” she says. “Maybe someday it’ll turn out to be the most meaningful book I ever wrote.”

More stories from 207:

Before You Leave, Check This Out