March 15, 2012


Duck & Goose: Here Comes the Easter Bunny! By Tad Hills. Schwartz & Wade. $6.99.

10 Easter Egg Hunters. By Janet Schulman. Illustrated by Linda Davick. Knopf. $6.99.

10 Hungry Rabbits. By Anita Lobel. Knopf. $9.99.

Little Bunny. By Lisa McCue. Random House. $5.99.

The Bunny’s Night-Light: A Glow-in-the-Dark Search. By Geoffrey Hayes. Random House. $11.99.

Peepsqueak! By Leslie Ann Clark. Harper. $12.99.

     Spring is approaching, and with it Easter, a longtime celebration of fertility, rebirth and renewal even before it became a Christian holiday. In the book world, the coming of spring and of Easter heralds the approach of adorable animals, especially bunnies and chicks, long associated with the season and the holiday. So Tad Hills’ latest tale of Duck & Goose has a distinct holiday tie-in. The story in this amusing board book actually has something of a Christmas angle, although not explicitly: Duck & Goose are trying to hide so the Easter Bunny won’t see them while distributing eggs. But just as kids waiting for Santa Claus always fall asleep, giving Saint Nick a chance to drop by unseen, so it happens for Duck & Goose. After exploring places to hide, such as a pond or mound of dirt, they decide to stay in the meadow, disguised as trees – but when they fall asleep at night, the Easter Bunny (seen as a silhouette in the background) shows up, leaving beautiful eggs everywhere; and in the morning, surrounded by eggs, there is nothing for Duck & Goose to do but hold up signs saying “Happy Easter.” The friends’ befuddled expressions and well-meaning attempts to find a place to hide are amusing and enjoyable, and therefore so is the entire book.

     The eggs are already hidden when 10 Easter Egg Hunters go searching for them. The Easter Bunny shows up here at the start of the book, after which the only bunny around is Baby, in a bunny costume; but the 10 children searching in Janet Schulman’s board book are adorable in themselves, especially as portrayed by Linda Davick. The book provides a count of brightly colored eggs on right-hand pages, with simple rhyming text on the left: “Lily sniffs a daffodil,/ Sees an egg on the windowsill.” The kids – big-eyed and big-headed – find eggs inside and outdoors, in a tree and by a fountain, and eventually, in the book’s cleverest rhyme, “And now for something really delicious,/ A big chocolate egg for sweet Aloysius.” A final parade of happy children in brightly colored outfits makes a yummy ending.

     Anita Lobel’s 10 Hungry Rabbits is a counting book, too, but without a direct tie-in to Easter. The story is certainly springlike, though, being focused on fresh vegetables that Mama Rabbit needs for the soup pot so she can make dinner. So off the little rabbits go, finding peppers and tomatoes and carrots and all sorts of other good things for Mama Rabbit to cook. On each page, Lobel shows a big picture of what each bunny finds; below it, there is a smaller picture of the little rabbit discovering the ingredient. After the finding and counting, the hungry little rabbits stand eagerly in the kitchen as Mama Rabbit chops the ingredients and makes a big, big pot of delicious vegetable soup, which the whole family sits down to enjoy at the end. The simple, straightforward story is winning, and Lobel’s pleasant pictures of the rabbit family go well with her illustrations of the food they find and prepare.

     There is only one little rabbit in Little Bunny, a board-book edition of a 1982 book from the Lisa McCue’s Fuzzytails series. But this bunny too is a charmer. Drawn more realistically than Lobel’s rabbits, but possessed of human-like expressions and expressiveness, McCue’s bunny does rabbit-like things with a touch of human-like flair. “Where are you going, little Fuzzytail Bunny?” asks McCue at the start, following up that question with a series of others, such as, “Are you going to the park after the children have gone home?” (showing an empty playground with the bunny happily nibbling on flowers). All that happens in the book is that the bunny explores its world, seeing and sniffing various things, then eventually runs home to “snuggle with your brothers and sisters” in a hollow tree. The book is easy to read and very easy to enjoy.

     The rabbits in The Bunny’s Night-Light are adorable, too, but are fully of the anthropomorphic type, with pajamas and robes and newspapers and a house and a boat. They also have glow-in-the-dark items all around, none of which solves Bunny’s problem: he cannot sleep because of “too much dark,” and needs a night-light. So his father searches for one with him. The moon (which has a bunny face and seems to have bunny ears, thanks to clouds passing by) is too bright; the stars are too twinkly; fireflies are “too busy. A glow-worm is occupied being its own night-light, and the light on a fishing boat is too small. But eventually, Bunny and Papa, with some help from Mama, come up with just the right night-light – charmingly – and Bunny goes happily to sleep. The simple good-night tale makes a sweet bedtime story, and the glow-in-the-dark feature makes it extra enjoyable: stars, a street light, the glow-worm, and other elements in Geoffrey Hayes’ tale really do glow, brightly enough to be seen by a sleepy child but not so brightly as to make it hard for him or her to nod off.

     And when that child wakes up, will he or she be as energetic as Peepsqueak? Here as in several of the bunny books, there is no direct tie-in to spring or Easter, but the energy here makes it clear that this is certainly a story about, ahem, springing into action. Leslie Ann Clark repeatedly comments of Peepsqueak, “He was on the move!” From the moment he hatches, wearing a bright red shirt bearing the initials “P.S.,” this little chick wants to do only one thing: fly! He is absolutely, 100% determined to fly way up in the sky, and never mind such nay-sayers as Big Brown Cow, Big Sheep and Yellow Duck. They say he can’t possibly fly high, but Peepsqueak is determined – and every time he fails and lands in the soft grass (after he tries to launch himself from a stone wall, a hill, even a tower of other chicks), Peepsqueak is on the move again, looking for some other way to get up in the air. How he finds one is delightful, how the other animals react to his eventual success is wonderful, and what Peepsqueak decides to do when he goes right back “on the move” toward another accomplishment makes for an amusing and thoroughly enjoyable conclusion. The energy of spring will soon be making itself evident in regions emerging from wintry chill, and Peepsqueak’s enthusiasm will be mirrored by that of many human boys and girls – hopefully having just as good a time as this little chick does.

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