Saturday, April 23, 2011

My favourite Easter picture book

I made some paper earrings for a friend the other day and the colours reminded me of my favourite easter picture book when I was a kid, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes. It was my mother's book, and I have it still.

The story is very sweet, and with a nice moral to it — mother rabbit, despite having 21 kids and living in the backblocks of the country, still gets plum job over noisy show-off buckrabbit boys and frightful snobby city rabbits. Basically by using her kids as slave labour.

The story is about being selected to wear the magic gold shoes and being one of the five Easter Bunnies who deliver the eggs to the children of the world. It's a huge honour, of course, and everyone wants it. But when the country bunny Cottontail says that one day she will be an Easter Bunny, the others laugh at her.

So fast forward and our Cottontail is a mother of 21 little rabbits, but she applies for the job and again she's laughed at for dreaming foolish dreams. Even the wise old rabbit who does the choosing asks her gently if she shouldn't be home looking after her kids. But our girl has the kids well trained. Working in pairs they do everything that needs to be done, from cooking and cleaning to dancing, making music and painting cheery pictures.

The illustrations are lovely, aren't they? They're simple but quite detailed and with a limited palette of colours, and quite unusual colours, at that.

For me then and now, they're entrancing, but more than that, the story is quite touching.
The job of being the easter bunny is hard and exhausting and little Cottontail doesn't have an easy time of it. After all her deliveries are done, there's still one more job for her — to take an especially beautiful egg to a far-distant mountain where there is a sick little boy, who is very good and never complains. She travels far, over high mountains,  and is climbing the last, highest mountain when she falls... but saves the egg. But it's almost dawn. How can she ever find the energy to climb the mountain again, in time.

Then the wise old rabbit appears and tells her she's not only wise and kind and swift, but she's brave. And he gives her a pair of magic gold shoes. And suddenly her aching feet are no longer tired... and she takes the beautiful egg to the sick little boy and is soon home... where her house is in perfect order, and all her kids are still asleep in bed.
It's a gorgeous book, and even though it's older than me, it's still in print, which goes to show that I'm not the only person who loves this story.
Happy Easter. Do you have any favorite Easter stories?


  1. I haven't thought about that book in years. I always adored the illustrations. They come alive on the page, don't they? So much emotion for simple drawings.

    You made my Easter morning. Thanks!

  2. Anne

    I have never read this book it sounds amazing but seeing as how it is still in print I will be looking for a copy to read to my grnadchildren I am sure they will love it

    Happy Easter to Everyone
    Have Fun

  3. They are emotional, Theo, I agree. It's amazing how many people know this book. I mentioned it on Facebook, too and so many people commented. I hope you had a lovely Easter.

  4. Helen, you can order it on line if you want -- I included a link in the post above.
    I'm sure the grandkids would love it, and you too. The story is lovely and the illustrations are so cute.

  5. I am 28 years old and remember this book from my childhood. It was and is still one of my favorite books. I am about to become an Aunt twice and will definately be giving this book to my nieces or nephews.I am happy to see that so many other people remember this book as fondly as I do.