A Feminist Bunny

The Easter Bunny brings books to our house along with chocolate, and this year I got a sweet Margaret Wise Brown story, Home for a Bunny, for Eli and then finally remembered to get one of my childhood favorites for Ben, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes.

When I was little, I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes Easter egg logistics that this book details: the “fact” that there are five Easter bunnies; how bunnies are chosen to become Easter bunnies; the palace stacked with Easter eggs, carefully sorted by color, style, and flavor.

As an adult, and as a parent, I appreciate the feminist message in this seventy year-old story. The Country Bunny is told that she’ll never be an Easter bunny because her 21 children take up so much her time. And it’s true, she says, that as babies they do keep her completely occupied. But then they grow, and she teaches them to run the house, assigning pairs to cook and clean and garden and even to dance and paint, to entertain the bunnies doing more “necessary” chores. We’re shown, in fact, that mothering gives her skills that make her more qualified to become an Easter bunny than she might have been otherwise.

All of this is very gently conveyed, not at all beating the reader over the head with its message, for which I am grateful. But the thing that gets me is, why does the Country Bunny need to teach her kids to do all this work? She has a husband, we read (he’s never shown), which is how she comes to have 21 baby bunnies, but then he falls out of the story and the Country Bunny is effectively a single mother. And so good for her for managing as competently as she does. But of course I wish for a story that shows the daddy bunny staying home with the kids while mother bunny follows her career dreams.


  1. Ericka Lutz says:

    I’m glad you wrote about this! I have been TOTALLY into this story this year! I just bought it for my 4-year-old granddaughter (my stepson’s daughter — I only say that so you won’t think I’m really that old!) And yesterday I retold the entire story to my parents who didn’t remember it. This was a very important book for me as a kid — memorable images and message. And I always assumed that she was a single mother…. yeah, so where WAS Daddy Bunny????

  2. Anonymous says:

    But maybe Daddy Bunny would be a disaster if left home with the kids and is sent out to work because he can do less damage at the office.

  3. Anonymous says:

    what I remember most vividly about this story is that two by two the bunnies were assigned jobs – laundry,cleaning et al but two were to dance and sing and two were to paint pretty pictures. My reaction 60 years ago and to this day, “Do you think that fair???!!!”

  4. Violeta says:

    I know we have a ton of my old Margaret Wise Brown books in boxes (until M & J graduate from eating books to wanting to be read to)-your post makes me want to look through them and see if this one’s amongst them!