Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes


One day a little country girl bunny with a brown
skin and a little cotton-ball of a tail said, “Some
day I shall grow up to be an Easter Bunny:–you
wait and see!”

Then all of the big white bunnies
who lived in
fine houses,

and the Jack Rabbits with long legs who can run so fast,
laughed at the little Cottontail and told her to go back to
the country and eat a carrot. But she said, “Wait and see!”

The little cottontail grows up into a wise, kind mama bunny who teaches her twenty-one (!) children to be self sufficient.  When a spot on the Easter Bunny roster comes open, she is ready to fulfill her lifelong dream.

It is hard to believe this book was published in 1939. (It is the only children’s book by the author of Porgy and primary lyricist of Porgy and Bess; he wrote it for his daughter.) This charming take on the Easter bunny story (the Palace of Easter Eggs is always popular) and its demonstration of work/life balance feels very contemporary.

Author: DuBose Heyward
Illustrator: Marjorie Flack

The Tale of Meshka the Kvetch


Tonight I thought I’d give the boys a treat by reading How I Became  a Pirate. (I don’t like romanticizing pirates, so we don’t have many pirate-related books. Which may make reading about them more exciting, rather than less. Huh.)   But the boys took one look at it and moaned, in unison:  “We have that at school!”

So, I picked out Meshka.  And they were thrilled.  Go figure.

Meshka is a practiced complainer (a kvetch).  Her back doesn’t simply ache, it feels as if she has “carried the Wall of Jericho itself.”  Her studious son “sit[s] around the house like a bump on a kosher pickle.”  And so on and so forth.  But, one day, everything she complains about literally comes to pass.  What is a kvetch to do?

The message here (praise the good in your life rather than bemoan the bad) isn’t subtle, but it is a good one and easily carried along by the humorous plot and lively illustrations.

Author:  Carol Chapman
Illustrator:  Arnold Lobel

The Golden Egg Book


I have just (sniff) cleared most of the board books out of my youngest son’s room. A fair number of board book posts seem likely in the near future. But first, bunnies!

My mom would only take The Golden Egg Book out at Easter time. While I see her point (bunnies and eggs) and I do the same (tradition!), you really could leave this one out year round. It is a sweet story of curiosity and friendship. The boys especially enjoy it when the bunny tries to guess what could be inside the egg (a boy? another bunny? an elephant? a mouse?) and when the duck that finally emerges tries to wake the now tuckered out bunny.

Author: Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrator: Leonard Weisgard

Charlotte’s Web


This classic is one of the very best books to read aloud to children. (I’ve been known to read it to babies.) Our edition has gently colorized pictures that gild the lily a bit but please the boys. It called the Signature Edition and is out of print but fairly simple to find.

We also enjoy the (much less beautiful) animated movie now and then (mostly for the songs).

 Author: E.B. White
Illustrator: Garth Williams, with watercoloring by Rosemary Wells

The Country Life of J.B. Rabbit


In this sequel to All Aboard with Jeremy Rabbit, it is Waldo Otter’s turn to be a fish out of water when he visits his cousin, Jeremy Rabbit, in the country.  This time there are trips on a car, river boat, and bicycles.  There are more delicious feasts and daring rescues.  And once again the cousins, although they go through a few rough patches during the visit, have a wonderful time together.

Author: Doris Susan Smith
Illustrator: Doris Susan Smith

All Aboard with Jeremy Rabbit


As I’ve mentioned before, searching for the rare Need a House? Call Ms. Mouse led to The Elephant’s Airplane, one of our favorite books to date.  Since its major attraction was its illustrations, I went hunting for all the other books illustrated by Doris Smith that I could find.  All Aboard with Jeremy Rabbit seemed particularly interesting because it was both  authored and illustrated by Ms. Smith and it has turned out to be a greatly enjoyable book in its own right.  We have the United Kingdom version of this long out-of-print book; it was published in the States as The Travels of J.B. Rabbit.

In this book, landlubber Jeremy Rabbit visits his seafaring cousin Waldo Otter for a memorable vacation.  There are trips on a train, car, boat, and hot air balloon.  There are delicious feasts and daring rescues. And, perhaps best of all, there is a sequel.

Author: Doris (Susan) Smith
Illustrator: Doris (Susan) Smith

The Elves and the Shoemaker


There was once a good shoemaker
who became very poor.

At last he had only one piece of leather
to make one pair of shoes.

“Well,” said the shoemaker to his wife,
“I will cut the leather tonight
and make the shoes in the morning.”

The story that follows is full of craftsmanship, thoughtfulness, generosity, good fortune, and magic. I loved this book as a child (my mom bought it from someone going door-to-door pulling a wagon full of used books, if I remember correctly) and the boys really enjoy it now.

Author: Freya Littledale/The Grimm Brothers
Illustrator: Brinton Turkle