This is one of my favorite children’s books. I’ve read it hundreds of times since I was little, and I’m now reading it to my own small children. They love it, too!
“The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes” is about a courageous little brown rabbit who overcomes countless obstacles to achieve her dream. It’s a sweet story with gorgeous illustrations. And it conveys positive, empowering messages that will inspire even very young readers.
So, the plot: Mother Cottontail lives a simple life in the country with her 21 (!!) bunny children. Her lifelong dream is to be an Easter bunny (there are five in this story).
Easter bunnies “must be the five kindest, and swiftest, and wisest bunnies in the whole world”. And Cottontail is more than qualified. She is kind, swift, wise and clever, not to mention determined. She’s raised 21 kids to be self-sufficient and productive members of a close, loving family. They can easily take care of the home while she delivers Easter eggs for a night!
But everyone (the rich white bunnies, and the big male jackrabbits) have always scoffed at Cottontail’s dream. After all, she’s female (Easter bunnies are always male), brown, countrified, and a stay-at-home mother. They laugh and dismiss her out of hand.
But Cottontail isn’t discouraged. She gets a lucky break when one of the current Easter bunnies retires. She auditions for the job. In a thrilling display, she proves herself worthy. At last Grandfather Bunny names her one of his five Easter bunnies!
Cottontail delivers Easter eggs all night, all over the world. As morning nears, Grandfather Bunny gives Cottontail another wonderful but difficult task. She must deliver a very special Easter egg to an ill child who lives at the top of a faraway icy mountain peak. She is very tired, but tries bravely to reach his house. Alas, she slips and falls at the crucial moment. She tumbles all the way back down the mountain.
Cottontail struggles to get up, but has badly injured her leg in the fall. Suddenly, Grandfather Bunny appears. He says she has proven herself not only wise, kind and swift, but also the bravest of his Easter bunnies. He gives her the highest honor, making her his “Gold Shoe Easter Bunny”. He puts a tiny pair of magical gold shoes on her feet.
Cottontail stands up. The pain in her leg is miraculously gone. In two swift bounds, she reaches the boy’s house. Just as dawn breaks, she slips the beautiful Easter egg into the open hand of the sleeping child. Cottontail’s bravery, determination, kindness and compassion will make a suffering child extremely happy.
I like this book for its wonderful story and beautiful, evocative illustrations, but also for its positive messages. It’s an inspiring tale of feminism. It shows that a woman can be a great mother and also great at her job. It’s about triumph over adversity; about overcoming social, racial and gender discrimination.
Best of all, it teaches children that they can challenge biases and boundaries. That resourcefulness and bravery will get them far in life. That kindness and consideration are valuable personal attributes. But most of all, to believe in yourself, never give up, and always follow your dream.
Luckily, this wonderful book is still in print. You can get it through this and other sellers: http://www.amazon.com/Country-Bunny-Little-Gold-Shoes/dp/0395159903
Copyright 1939, by Du Bose Heyward and Marjorie Flack Larsson
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston and New York (Sandpiper Houghton Mifflin Books)
The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes (Sandpiper Books)