March 02, 2006


Peter Rabbit’s Happy Easter. By Grace Maccarone. Illustrated by David McPhail. Cartwheel Books/Scholastic. $5.99.

Can You See What I See? Seymour Makes New Friends. By Walter Wick. Cartwheel Books/Scholastic. $5.99.

I Spy Little Bunnies. Rhymes by Jean Marzollo. Photographs by Walter Wick. Cartwheel Books/Scholastic. $6.99.

     Bunnies and springtime have been linked from time immemorial.  Bunnies and Beatrix Potter have been linked for a century.  And, of course, bunnies are an important part of the secular celebration of Easter.  Put all these elements together and you have Peter Rabbit’s Happy Easter, which revives Potter’s famous foursome of Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter, keeping the focus on Peter (as Potter herself did), and building a whole new story for ages 3-5.  As told by Grace Maccarone and colorfully illustrated by David McPhail, the tale starts with Peter feeling sorry for being naughty.  Determined to show his mother that he is a good little bunny after all, he wanders past henhouses at the neighborhood farms, taking eggs to bring to mommy – because “there were many, many more eggs than anyone could possibly need.”  Oblivious to the discomfort of the hens and the anger of the farmers, Peter stays focused on bringing the eggs home – but when he does so and puts them down, he accidentally knocks over some jars of paint.  The rest is, if not history, a pleasant fairy tale: Peter’s mother insists he return the eggs, he drops them everywhere while trying to take them back where he got them, everyone who finds them is delighted, and Peter becomes known as the Easter Bunny.  It’s a simple, enjoyable story.

     Walter Wick’s new “search-and-find storybook” about Seymour, also for ages 3-5, isn’t quite so simple.  The text is easy enough to read, but this is a book similar to those in the I Spy series, for which Wick does the marvelously complex photographs.  Actually, it’s a bit like a mixture of I Spy and Where’s Waldo?  Seymour is a colorful plastic toy, and he, or something related to him (such as footprints or a seesaw), appears in every photo.  This gives the book continuity even though there is not really a story: Seymour is standing alone in his room at the start, playing with friends at the end, and wandering from place to place in the middle.  Wick makes the book easy enough for young readers and searchers by showing small pictures of each object they are to find in the larger photos – a clever touch that prevents frustration.  And what does all this have to do with bunnies?  Well, there are two of them here: they’re Seymour’s new friends.

     Speaking of I Spy and bunnies, you get both in Wick’s board book, I Spy Little Bunnies, which is intended for the youngest children – up to age three.  It’s a delightful introduction to the I Spy series, filled with pleasant rhymes by Jean Marzollo and complex-looking photos in which the objects to be found are made easy to spot – the opposite of the technique in I Spy books for older kids and adults.  Again, there are small pictures of each object to search for; and the search is especially simple here because the larger photos are still only the size of a single board-book page.  As for bunnies: there’s at least one to find on every page, making the whole book a cuddly treat.

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