My parents have always worked hard to make Easter special. For many years, they hid my Easter basket and sent me searching for it with a trail of clues that were written in rhyme.
When I was very small they started making Easter baskets for my grandparents too. While my grandparents are now gone, we still each get an Easter basket filled with candy. Not many families give Easter baskets to grown adults but it’s a fun tradition and who doesn’t like getting candy?
My most vivid Easter memory doesn’t come from candy though. It involves sitting on the porch swing one beautiful Easter morning and reading this book.
The Country Bunny And The Little Gold Shoes is a classic that has never been out of print since its first publication in 1939. Du Bose Heyward wrote this book based on a story his mother made up and told him when he was a child. He told it to his own children as well before putting pen to paper.
If you recognize Heyward’s name, he wrote the novel Porgy and worked with his wife to adapt it into a play that would later become the Gershwin classic opera Porgy and Bess.
Heyward’s Easter book was beautifully illustrated by Marjorie Flack, an experienced illustrator of children’s books.
I don’t recall exactly what it was about this book but I was taken with the story, the illustrations and even the pretty pink cover.
It tells the story of the Easter Bunny and how there are actually five Easter bunnies. These five bunnies “must be the five kindest, and swiftest, and wisest bunnies in the whole wide world, because between sunset on Easter Eve and dawn on Easter Morning they do more work than most rabbits do in a whole year.”
Cottontail is a small brown bunny who wants to be an Easter Bunny. She applies but is met with scorn and disrespect. “Big white rabbits who lived in fine houses” told her to “go back to the country and eat a carrot.”
She eventually married and had 21 little bunnies of her own but she never let go of her dream to be an Easter Bunny. Long story short, the little brown mama rabbit from the country went back, tried again and got the job.
Today, I like this story for a couple of reasons. As a person who grew up in rural Appalachian Ohio, I have encountered plenty of snooty people who probably would like to tell me to go back to the country and eat a carrot.
Some of the best aspects of life in America can be found in rural areas but our society tends to associate rural with inadequate.
The book is also hailed for its feminist themes. She not only joined the workforce as a mother to 21 babies, she became famous for her work. This was a progressive statement for 1939.
It’s a neat old book and I would encourage you to pick up a copy for the kiddos in your life. The romance of the Easter Bunny never goes out of style and the book seems as relevant today as it must have upon publication 83 years ago.
The copy I own is pretty ragged and there are even some pages missing. Perhaps I’ll pick up a new copy for myself before next Easter!
I hope you have a beautiful day wherever you are. May your day be filled with warmth, beauty and peace. Happy Easter!