Oh Charming Friends! If you are not familiar with The Country Bunny and the Little Golden Shoes by DuBose Heyward, you are in for a treat!
Now, I’m not normally a fan of secular Easter books, but I don’t think this is an Easter book per se. Yes, it is about Easter bunnies, but it’s more about one bunny in particular, the Country Bunny, who just wants to become an Easter Bunny. We’ve never done the Easter Bunny in our family (Easter Baskets, yes), but when my children were small they still delighted in this book. In fact, this was one of my favorite books when I was a little girl too.
Charming Friends, this book is delightful. It has beautiful illustrations by Majorie Flack, who also wrote and/or illustrated classics such as, The Story About Ping and Ask Mr. Bear. It also has a charming plot. But what is really terrific about this book is it’s subtle message about society’s expectations, mothering, balance, and personal goals. There is a definite nod to feminism in this story, but also a celebration of mothering and homemaking.
So, here’s the basic plot. We learn at the beginning of the story that there are actually five Easter Bunnies at any one time and they are the kindest, swiftest, and wisest bunnies in the whole world. It is a dream of every bunny child, including the little country girl bunny to one day grow up to be an Easter Bunny. But all the jack rabbits and all the rich tall white rabbits laughed at her. By and by, she grew up and got married and then one day much to her surprise, there were twenty-one cottontail babies to take care of.
And really, how many of us have looked around one day to realize we are no longer a young girl with a crazy dream, but instead a busy mother with a houseful of babies to tend to? So, as we all do, tend to them she did. But before long, as is the case with babies, soon they were big.
And then one day, when her children stopped being babies and were little girl and boy bunnies, she called them all to her and said, “Now we are going to have some fun.”
By fun, she meant put them to work. She taught them to sweep, cook, do dishes, make beds, do laundry, and sew. Two got to paint pictures to decorate their home. And two others got to sing beautiful music to keep their siblings happy while they worked. Clearly Heyward saw art as work just as meaningful and helpful as any other labor. I love that.
With her children happily taking care of the home, The Country Bunny felt she could finally pursue her dream of becoming an Easter Bunny. On the day of the selection, The Old Grandfather Bunny, whose job it was to choose each new Easter Bunny, could find plenty of bunnies who were swift and pretty, but none who were also kind and wise. Then he took notice of the Country Bunny who was there with her twenty-one children. It was clear from the way her children behaved that she was both wise and kind, but there was still one problem. Grandfather Bunny was disappointed.
It is too bad you have not had time to run and grow swift, or I might have chosen you..
Apparently, the Old Grandfather Bunny did not know how fast a mother sometimes has to be. So, The Country Bunny laughed and then instructed her children to scatter. She chased after them, and showed Old Grandfather just how fast a mamma can be. In no time, she had them all back in their places.
Next Grandfather Bunny worried that she would not be able to be an Easter Bunny because the had too many children to look after to allow her the time away from home. But she told him about their jobs and assured him that they could easily manage until she returned home.
As an Easter Bunny, the Country Bunny’s kindness and wisdom served her well – even if she did have to get a little help from Grandfather and a pair of Little Golden Shoes to get an Easter Egg to a very sick child who just so happened to be living far far away on the highest snow covered mountain.
And when she returned home, what do you think she found? A house spic and span and twenty-one little rabbits fast asleep in their beds.
Okay, so maybe The Country Bunny’s story is a bit unrealistic. Just a little. But what I love about this story is that the Country Bunny put her children first. She set aside her dream to be an Easter Bunny so that she could raise her babies. She trained them well, and once they were big enough to help her reach her dream, they did just that. The were selfless, just as she had always been. The Country Bunny and the Little Golden Shoes is the story about a
woman bunny who found that she really could have it all – just not all at the same time.