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April 19, 2011

Best Books About Bunnies

It’s that time of year again, when all the serious thinkers in the world start compiling lists of best books about bunnies. We’re still secular fundamentalists over here, but our inner pagans have happily appropriated Easter and all its spring-time loveliness (inc. Cadbury’s contributions to it). Plus we love rabbits–me: Miffy. Harriet: rabbits in general, which are “bunnies” always. Hate real rabbits though. Nasty creatures… But that’s another story. In the meantime, here are our favourite rabbits at the moment from the land of picture books.

Moon Rabbit/Brown Rabbit in the City by Natalie Russell. We have these books out of the library all the time, which give a laporine twist on the country mouse/city mouse scenario. The pictures are gorgeous, a bit retro, decorated with collagey patterned touches, and feature delightful things like teapots, guitars, and a double-decker bus. Moon Rabbit (which Harriet calls Moon Bunny) is about a city dwelling rabbit who looks out at the big moon and wonders if there is anyone else in the world like her. When she inadvertently wanders off into the outskirts of town, she meets a guitar-playing brown rabbit whose music makes her happy. They have fun together, until she begins to long for home, so she returns even though she’ll miss her friend, but he makes plans to see her soon. His visit is the subject of the second book, which is just as lovely.

Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth by Marie Louise Gay. The illustrations here are vibrant, textured, and leap right off the page. Roslyn is a bouncy bunny with long ears and big dreams: she’s determined to dig the biggest hole on earth (and maybe even meet a penguin when she gets to the South Pole). She’s not sure where to dig the hole, however, and then once she determines where to start, she discovers she’s digging in a worm’s front yard, in mole’s living room, and in a dog’s bone storage area. Clearly underground is less barren than she ever imagined (and if I were preposterous, I would suppose that this story actually an allegory about European colonization). She’s just about discouraged when her dad comes outside and makes her realize (but in a most unsentimental fashion) that she can dig the biggest hole on earth in her imagination. And then they eat lunch.

Without You (and Me and You) by Genevieve Cote. We love, love, love Genevieve, who draws the best teapots, and this is the book that Harriet will receive as a gift on Sunday morning. This latest book is the story of two best friends (pig and rabbit) who have learned to celebrate their differences in theory, but find that day-to-day realities make the practice more difficult than they’d supposed. After an argument, they decide they don’t need one another anyway, but quickly discover that life is way less fun and interesting without a best friend to share it with. Not an allegory about European colonization, but a sweet and simple story that’s familiar to anyone and (spoiler alert) has a beautiful, happy ending.

The Velveteen Rabbit (Abridged) by Margery Williams, illustrated by Don Daily. My mom gave this to Harriet for Easter last year, and of course, it’s well known, but I highlight it here because the abridgement is great. For kids a bit too small to appreciate the full story, here is the story stripped down but not in a way that takes away from the plot or the prose.

The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood, illustrated byRenata Liwska. Bunnies are just one of the creatures that features in this weird, wonderful book about the various kinds of quiet (“swimming under water quiet”, “Right before you yell “Surprise!” quiet”, “Trying not to hiccup quiet”). Not simply a list of quiets, a plot can be detected by the action in the pictures, but not entirely–for example, why was the little moose colouring on the wall? And we’re still trying to figure out how the little bear swimming underwater ended up with an injured tail. But I love that– picture books with as much subtext as a novel, and how the best ones are those you’ll never be altogether finished reading.

4 thoughts on “Best Books About Bunnies”

  1. Kristin says:

    Oh we love anything by Marie Louise Gay. The books appeal to both of my kids, amazingly. It’s nice to have something we can all read together. Enough adorable little creatures and beautiful art for the 20 month old girl, but enough of an interesting story to appeal to the 4.5 year old boy.

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