Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Review of The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes is an Easter Classic

This classic Easter picture book has been with us since 1939 and has stood the test of time. I still have the hardcover edition of The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes I received when I was just learning to print. It no longer has the dustjacket because little girls don't always know how important the dust jacket is if they grow up to become booksellers. They also don't realize that proudly printing one's name in big letters on the front pastedown to show possession decreases the value of the book. 

Review of The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by DuBose Heyward


As I look now at that proud possession about 68 years later, I see that the cloth binding is frayed at the edges and almost completely worn off the bumped corners. It is evident that this book, like the famous Velveteen Rabbit, has been loved very much. 

I Loved The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes

In this book, children learn that there are really five Easter Bunnies -- not just one. They must be the five kindest, swiftest, and wisest bunnies in the world. All the bunnies know this. They also know that when an Easter bunny becomes too old to run fast anymore, The Grandfather Bunny, who is old, wise and kind and lives at the Palace of the Easter Eggs, will pick a new Easter Bunny from all the bunnies in the world. 

So every bunny tries to become fast, wise, and kind with the hope of getting picked someday. One of these young bunnies was a country girl Cottontail bunny. She told the other bunnies she would grow up to be an Easter Bunny someday, but they all laughed at her. 

She grew up, got married, and had twenty-one baby Cottontail bunnies. She put her childhood dream at the back of her mind.  It no longer seemed possible that it could come true. The elegant white rabbits and the jackrabbits continued to laugh at her, telling her, 'What did we tell you! Only a country rabbit would go and have all those babies. Now take care of them and leave Easter eggs to great big men bunnies like us.'

Cottontail did take care of her babies, and she trained them well to help her with everything that needed doing to take care of the house. They worked in teams of two, usually a brother and sister together, doing household chores, garden tasks, and even singing and dancing to entertain their other siblings as they worked.



When the little rabbits were half grown, Cottontail got word that one of the Easter bunnies had gotten too slow and everyone was gathering at the Palace of Easter Eggs to see whom Grandfather Bunny would pick as the next Easter Bunny. Naturally, Cottontail took her little Cottontails to watch the fun, but she was sad, knowing that she was only going to be able to watch some other rabbit get the job she'd always wanted. 

As the larger rabbits showed how fast they were, the Grandfather Rabbit wasn't happy. He could see they were neither wise nor kind. Then he saw Little Cottontail Mother with her children and started asking her questions. 

Did having all those children take all her time? No. She had trained them so well that they did most of the household work. Grandfather Bunny determined she must be very wise to train them so well. 

Did her children always look so happy? Yes. Her household never had tears or cross words. Grandfather Bunny decided she must be very kind to have such happy children. 

Surely, though, having all those children must not leave her time to practice running to be swift. Little Cottontail Mother whispered to her bunnies and they all raced away in different directions.  She quickly rounded them up and they stood again in front of Grandfather Bunny. He appointed her as his fifth Easter Bunny. 

But what about the little gold shoes? Little Cottontail was awarded those after quite an adventure. You'll have to read the book to see how she got them. 

I felt quite insignificant as a child. I did not yet have any big dreams. But Little Cottontail demonstrated that even an ordinary person like me could accomplish great things if she learned to be wise and kind. 

The illustrations by Majorie Flack have stayed with me for a lifetime. The introductory image shows the Cottontail family standing in front of the Grandfather Bunny at the Palace of the Easter Eggs. My favorite pictures were of the bunny sibling pairs doing their chores, Mother Cottontail rounding up her children to demonstrate how fast she could be, and most of the illustrations that show her earning her little gold shoes. I would pour over those pictures often as I relived the story, and not just at Easter time.


A Remarkable Book When It Was Published


This story by DuBose Heyward, who is more famous for his novel  Porgy, which inspired the musical Porgy and Bess, was written long before most people were thinking about women's issues. Yet many many women today believe The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes proves that women are just as capable as men, even as Easter bunnies.





Although DuBose Heyward was an aristocrat himself, he pokes fun at aristocrats in this book. I see that as an adult reader. Adults will see deeper meaning in this book than very young readers will. 

Heyward was a Southerner who lived from 1885 to 1940. He was one of the first writers from the South to portray blacks without condescension in a novel. He was able to see beyond race and class to show people as they were without prejudice. Find out more about DuBose Heyward in DuBose Heyward: A Charleston Gentleman and the World of Porgy and BessFind all the books mentioned on this page and others by Heyward on eBay.

Review of The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by DuBose Heyward




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

12 comments:

  1. What a lovely review, Barbara. The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes is more than an Easter book. It's one of those childhood books that helps teach children some valuable life lessons in a sweet and easy way.

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    1. I think that's why I've always remembered it. It struck a chord with me.

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  2. What a delightful book review, as well as interesting background of the author. I have a feeling that there are many fast, wise, and kind grown-ups out there who took those concepts to heart while falling in love with the book at an early age. I'm glad the book is still around.

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    1. I guess that's why so many of these books have become classics. As they entertain, they speak to us and challenge us to become more than we are.

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  3. It really sounds like a fantastic children's book. How wonderful that you still have your own hardcover book from your childhood days. Having your name on the front may decrease the value in the worlds eyes, but it actually makes it a greater treasure for yourself and those who love you.

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    1. I still can't make myself give the book away. I will if my nephew ever makes me a great aunt. I want ot pass it to someone I love.

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  4. I love it Barbara! I can see you curled up with this book enjoying the pictures as much as the words. It's great when a story stays with you for a long time and is timeless in its messages too. Thank you for a lovely review and like Susan I'm glad it's still around.

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    1. I'm also glad it's still around. So many wonderful picture books are now out of print. Fortunately many have also been brought back.

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  5. I remember reading that book as a child. I forgot all about it til I read your review. I think older books still hold many lesson for our children. If only they would sit down and read them.

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    1. That's why we read most books to our children -- even as they grew old enough to read themselves. We didn't have TV or computers, so that was our evening entertainment. We'd find interesting books above the children's reading levels and read them aloud as a family. I'm sure someone read this book to me first before I read it to myself. I know I read it over and over.

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  6. I had a deprived childhood! I had never heard of this book! But now that I have, I will get it for my granddaughter. Lovely review. The Country Bunny sounds delightful!

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    1. Cottontail Bunny was a wise mother and a strong woman. She's a good role model.

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