April 05, 2012


A Big Boy Now. By Eileen Spinelli. Illustrated by Megan Lloyd. Harper. $16.99.

The Easter Bunny’s Assistant. By Jan Thomas. Harper. $12.99.

     Kids will be kids, but bunnies can be kids, too. The little rabbit in Eileen Spinelli’s A Big Boy Now is a stand-in for every human child, ages 4-8, on the cusp of doing something more grown-up than what he or she used to do. The book starts with the bunny explaining that he can now get dressed, make his bed, pour his breakfast cereal, even wash his bowl by himself, “because I am a big boy now.” He can play at the playground, help his father wash the car, share with friends and his sister – do lots of “big boy” things. But what about riding his bike without training wheels? Well, the bunny decides to find out, and all goes well for the first part of his big-boy ride – until he loses his balance, the bike falls over, and he scrapes his knee and elbow. Crying, the bunny runs home to Mom, hurt as much by the notion that he really isn’t a big boy as by the accident itself. A little reassurance and a few bandages later, though, he feels better, and has to decide: put the training wheels back on the bike, or no? The way he makes the decision and decides that he is, after all, a big boy, provides a happy ending to a book that will help parents when their own little bunnies (the human type) get some cuts and scrapes while trying to prove what big boys or girls they are. Megan Lloyd’s expressive and brightly colored illustrations help make Spinelli’s tale of growing up (at least a little bit) even more enjoyable to read.

     The rabbit is a very specific one in The Easter Bunny’s Assistant, but it is the assistant who quickly becomes the focus of Jan Thomas’ Easter-egg-coloring book for ages 2-5 – because the assistant is a skunk, and when he gets excited, he…well…stinks. And he keeps getting excited as the Easter Bunny gives step-by-step information on “how to make beautiful Easter eggs.” Skunk gets excited when the Easter Bunny hard-boils the eggs…and when he makes dye to color them…and when he talks about using crayons to decorate them. So Step 4 of the Easter Bunny’s instructions is, “Remove skunk from room (push if necessary).” But the Easter Bunny feels sorry for Skunk, who is right outside the window, knocking on the glass, and eventually the two friends figure out a way to handle Skunk’s excitement and work on the eggs together. The book ends with more-detailed step-by-step instructions on making Easter eggs, suitable for use by human “Easter bunnies” and their parents…but not for skunks. A pleasantly offbeat seasonal book, The Easter Bunny’s Assistant combines an amusing story with simple, enjoyable instructions that should please kids and parents alike.

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