Illustrator: Marjorie Flack
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 1939
Genres: Children's Books, Picture Books
Source: my personal collection
With twenty-one baby bunnies to look after, mother bunny Cottontail abandons her dream of becoming an Easter Bunny. But when Grandfather Bunny spies her perfectly behaved brood, he’s so impressed that he makes Cottontail the most important Easter Bunny of all! Originally published in 1939, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes celebrates the timeless values of equality, hard work, and patient ambition.
The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes is my all-time favorite Easter book. It was read to me when I was a little girl; decades later, I read it to my own daughter. Though it was first published in 1939, it has held up remarkably well and is now a classic. The simplicity of Heyward’s words are perfectly matched by Marjorie Flack’s delightful illustrations.
There is, it seems, not one Easter Bunny but five, “and they must be the the five kindest, and swiftest, and wisest bunnies in the whole wide world.” When a small country Cottontail bunny declares that one day she will grow up to be an Easter Bunny, the grown-up bunnies all laugh at her.
When she does grow up, she has 21 Cottontail babies, and she gives up her dream to take care of them. But when they get a little older, she teaches them how to keep house, dividing the tasks among them.
Then one day, word comes that one of the Easter Bunnies has gotten too old. Many rabbits compete to be the next, but the Grandfather Bunny doesn’t pick any of them – they are fast, but not wise and kind. Instead, his eye alights on Mother Cottontail and her brood. . . and you can guess the rest. But that’s still only half the story, for Cottontail is given the most difficult and important journey of all.
I love this book in part because the little girl bunny is able to become an Easter Bunny – even after she grows up and becomes a mother. Not only is she not limited by her sex or her familial role, her parenting skills are the reason she is chosen. But mostly I love it because it is charming and heartwarming and told simply, the way a parent tells a story to a child. In fact, that’s how the book began: as a story told to Heyward’s daughter Jenifer.
It’s a story worth sharing with your child or grandchild.