Did anyone ever read this book to you? Someone who loved you very much and wanted you to believe you could be anything you want to be? Mrs. Carol Fowler read this book to me and I have never forgotten it. One afternoon a week, our class walked down to the library at Flint River Academy and filed in quietly. On top of the low shelves filled with children’s books, one book would be lying face down and near her chair–the book she had chosen for us. Oh, the excitement of that first peek!
We sat in a semi-circle on the thin carpet–back then we called it “indian style” instead of “criss cross apple sauce.” Mrs. Fowler wouldn’t say a word until we were all sitting down and paying attention. I can still remember the crackle of the plastic covers that she put on the books to protect their beautiful covers. She was magical–Mrs. Fowler could read upside down and knew exactly when to turn the page without even looking. Library time was the best hour of the week.
When I was in seventh grade, long after the days of story hour, I got to assist Mrs. Fowler in the library during my free period. As I straightened the books in the elementary section, I rediscovered “The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes” and read it many times. When Mrs. Fowler had first held the book up for us to see, I was a little disappointed because the cover doesn’t look like much. The colors were too old-fashioned, some book my grandmother would pull out of a dusty box in the attic.
Oh, the story! A little brown bunny named Cottontail wants to be an Easter Bunny but no one believes in her. Those jobs go to the swift jack rabbits or the giant white bunnies. When Cottontail finds herself all grown up with 21 babies to chase after, her dream seems even further out of reach. But lo and behold, Cottontail’s experience as a mother translates into just the “skill set” that a busy Easter Bunny needs. She is selected and gets to live her dream, thanks to the help of her children and her own belief in her dream. Even when the job seems to be too much, she finds the strength to do the impossible…thanks to a pair of magic shoes.
When I was all grown up, I bought a copy of “The Country Bunny” for myself. One Easter, when my nephew, Grant, was about two and a half, I decided to share it with him. His dad was busy fixing something around our parents’ house and asked me to keep Grant out of the way. We snuggled into a comfy chair and I told him about this wonderful book that I had loved for so many years and how excited I was to share it with him. Papa was snoozing in the other chair. I opened the book, read the first page in breathless awe. Grant reached across my lap, closed the book and chirped “The End!” He slid off my lap and went off to find out what all the hammering was about. My dad STILL laughs about that moment! So much for that.
This is my favorite illustration from the book. Cottontail has one very special egg to deliver to a sick boy who lives atop a mountain. She is exhausted from her night’s work. There isn’t much night left–the pink dawn of Easter breaks behind the mountain. Cottontail doesn’t want to give up. She makes it…SPOILER ALERT!
I think I love this painting because I’ve felt this way so many times as a mother. You spend so much effort trying to get everything done, trying to make the magic happen and there doesn’t seem to be enough time. You’re worn out. You just need that little boost of magic. The night wasn’t long enough.
Go get this book and read it to yourself. Give yourself the same gift that Mrs. Fowler gave me all those years ago. I still appreciate it.