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The Runaway Bunny Paperback – January 3, 2006
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“Delightful. What mother, human, or rabbit, doesn’t want to keep that new little one in their sight at all times?” (Brightly)
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Basically, this is a story of a bunny that wants to runaway. This is a very common daydream for most small children. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this fantasy wish. Anyway, as the story unfolds, we find that with each move the bunny contemplates, his mother has a counter move. We find the mother always watching, weather she turns into a rock, a tree or several other things, she is always there; always watching over her baby bunny. In the end, the bunny decides; following his mother's logic, that he is quite well off right where he is at and his mom offers him a carrot.
After reading this story for a few hundred times, contemplating the negative and positive reviews here, I must admit that I am somewhat confused over the issues. Perhaps there was something in my upbringing that causes me to miss some of the negative issues expressed. I will say that I find myself in absolute complete agreement with one reviewer here, DR Clup, when he points out the obvious fact that the entire story of the Runaway Bunny is simply a warmed over child's version of Voltaire's `Candide." I would bet a six pack of Dr. Pepper that this is where the author came up with the idea of the story line.
Be that as it may, this work has not been out of print since it was first published in 1942. It is a much beloved book by many; bringing many fond childhood memories of being read to and it has obviously been passed on to multiple generation of young readers and listeners. I suppose the evolution of parenting philosophies over the years (they come and they go) may have something to do with the rejection of this work by some. I can remember my own mothers, who could have been a prototype for the mom rabbit is this story, was somewhat "different" than some of the other moms of her time. She used many of the same methods this mother used in managing me...I was what was and is considered a "difficult child."
I suppose this is one of those books that the parent probably should read and review before reading it to their child and if they find it disturbing or inappropriate, then simply remove it from your child's library. After all, at the age group this work is targeted for, it is ultimately the parent's responsibility to make these decisions. I personally found nothing wrong with the work and as a matter of fact, still find it delightful...but hey, that is just me!
NOTE: For the reviewer who objected to the fact that the author had the little bunnies doing unnatural bunny acts, i.e. swimming....When I was young I ran a pack of beagles; a large pack. Like their owner (me), they were neither particularly bright nor good at what they did, i.e. chase rabbits. They were rabbit chasing challenged. One of the myriad of tricks the rabbits use to play on them (almost in fun I think) was head for the water. I can assure you that a chased cottontail rabbit can swim like a fish when he or she chooses to do so. Many a time I had to fish the bewildered dogs out of the water as the bunny disappeared into the bush on the other side of a pond or creek.
I haven't opened this book for fifteen or sixteen years, not since I read it to my son as often as he asked for it, i.e. eight-gazillion times. But I remember it fondly. It depicts a teasing game between a mother and a child, just the sort of teasing game that my son often played with me and his mother, not even a testing game really because his and our security in each other was too strong to need testing. The little bunny's challenge to his mother, that he will run away and change his identity, is obviously a request for her commitment to expand her affection and support as he begins to sense the approach of growing-up and actually going forth. She responds just as he hopes (and knows) she will.
Another reviewer, my amazon friend in the Ozarks, suggested that I look at the one-star reviews of this book, of which there are a dismaying number. I have looked, and I'm both flabbered and gasted. Some of the 0ne-Starsers are obviously such poor literal readers, as well as being picture illiterate, that they simply don't understand the affect of the story. Or else they're been discouraged somehow from ever 'reading between the lines'. Some of them are plainly ideology-poisoned, even when reading a children's book. What they miss is that the little bunny feels so secure in his Mother's Love that he can tease her and feel even more secure when she assures him that her love can reach anywhere and even forgive a little abandonment, that synonym for "growing up."
The intended interpretation of this is clearly that the mother's love for her little bunny transcends everything, basically. She's not going to give up on him if he becomes a flower in a garden, or whatever. The problem stems from the first line, basically, and the fact that it is so simple, and therefore open to interpretation. "Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away." Well, why did he want to run away? I think the interpretation of the mother's love as being sweet and transcendent comes from interpreting that line as, "Kids sometimes get mad at their parents and want to run away." It happens. I threatened it when I was a kid. But there are certain circumstances where the child may legitimately want to get away from their parent. And that's where the alternative interpretation stems from: "No matter where you go, I'll find you." It becomes ominous. There's a difference between saying, "Don't run away, it's dangerous out there and I'm worried about your safety," and "I'm going to follow you." And there's a difference between saying, "If you run away, you will always have a place to come back to," and "You're not allowed to run away." And that's really what it boils down to. Maybe it's a generational thing. There's another similar book titled, "Mama, Do You Love Me" which doesn't have this problem. It instead has the child ask about certain hypothetical situations and whether the mother would still love them. Of course the mother still loves the child, no matter what. But that's different. The little bunny in this book isn't asking, "Would you still love me if I ran away," he's saying, "I'm going to run away." And she's basically saying, "No, you're not." And again, that's a little bit of a more authoritarian stance than more parents nowadays try to take. It's more authoritarian than I want to be. I own this book; it was given to me as a gift. I try to be as positive in my interpretation of it as possible, but it's really difficult sometimes.
Message: You can't escape your parents.
For more children's book reviews, see my website at drttmk dot com.
Most recent customer reviews
I love this book, how beautifully written. I love the art as well.