There are several books for children that adults love, but may not be the best books in the world. In my SLIS 5420 class we discussed Love You Forever and The Giving Tree. These books are touching and evoke fond memories of our parents reading to us as children. Upon closer examination, they can seem very bizarre and even overwhelmingly depressing.
One other such book is The Runaway Bunny by Margret Wise Brown.
The Runaway Bunny
This book is about a young bunny that wants to run away from its mother. The mother counters every plan the little bunny can think of and the bunny gives up in the end to just stay home.
The story line is about a mother proving how much she cares about her child, which is a good message. I kind of wonder, however, why the bunny wants to run away. This book could be interpreted as an overbearing mother driving her child away.
“Runaway Bunny constitutes yet another divisive children’s title. Many people (most?) would say that it’s a sweet and comforting tale of a parent’s unconditional and eternal love for their child. But there is a segment of the population that finds the book disturbing. Some feel that the bunny is honestly trying to make a break for freedom, but that its mother is preventing this escape, and crushing its spirit. The book can be read a number of different ways, but generally it’s still a very well regarded picture book title,” (Bird, 2009).
It could be a book about a conroling mother, but I don’t see it that way. I just see it as a simple story. A story that would totally flop in a preschool storytime in today’s world.
One reason why I think that is the art. This is a classic book with both line drawings and full page illustrations. The illustration is very beautiful, but also rather dated. Another reason is that the book lacks the humor and interactive elements that kids love in today’s fast-passed media environment. This book is better served as a private bedtime story or a book for the child to start independent reading.
A good modern book can reinforce the values of reading and make children and adults laugh. One such book is Henry & the Buccaneer Bunnies by Carolyn Crimi.
Henry & the Buccaneer Bunnies
This book is about a young bunny, Henry, on a pirate ship who would rather read than do piratey things. When a storm comes and wrecks the ship, Henry knows how to handle the situation because he read all about it.
I really enjoyed this book. It was the right amount of silly and had a good message. Books about reading can sometimes feel as though the author is forcing the idea that reading is good down the child’s throat. This one, however, was enjoyable enough so that the message was secondary to the humor.
“Although the plot is weak, the illustrations are fresh and comical, and send a clear message about the importance of reading,” (Schindler, 2005).
The plot might be simple, but the language is playful and complex. There are several puns that made me laugh. I think this an excellent book to read during storytime and you could even get the kids to yell out some of the silly pirate phrases with you. You could even create a pirate program for kids and have them come dressed up and go on a treasure hunt in the library afterward.
Bird, E. (2009 April 7). Top 100 Picture Book Poll Results. [Review of the book Runaway Bunny]. School Library Journal Online. Retrieved from http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/afuse8production2009/04/07/top-100-picture-books-poll-results-75-71/
Brown, M. W. (1972). Runaway Bunny. New York: Harper & Row.
Crimi, C. (2005). Henry & the Buccaneer Bunnies. Massachusetts: Candlewick Press.
Munsch, R. (1987). Love you Forever. New York: FireflyBooks.
Silverstein, S. (1964). The Giving Tree. New York: Harper & Row.