Margaret Wise Brown: The Runaway Bunny

Illustrated by Clement Hurd

Published by Harper & Row, New York, 1991

Some of us accomplish so much in a lifetime. Margaret Wise Brown was only 42 when she died, an artist and teacher from Brooklyn, New York. Fortunately, she left behind many manuscripts, some published in her lifetime and many published posthumously. This story by her, written in 1942, is one of my favourites.

The edition I have is a small board book, just right for reading, snuggled up on the couch with a little bunny of your own. You know it’s going to be an adventure because the little bunny in this story wants to run away from his mother. The mother, however, is prepared for the challenge and you can soon feel the enormous love she has for her bunny, a love that will span and overcome all kinds of distances and obstacles.

Each time the little bunny talks about how he is going to run away, the mother explains how she will find him again. We see their conversation with black and white illustrations and then, turning the page, we see the mother bunny in glorious colour becoming and doing all the things she needs to do, to find her bunny again.

The push and pull of childhood independence and motherly unconditional love gives a wonderful rhythm to the story and ultimately a sense of security and trust in the never-ending and powerful bond between mother and child.

It’s all quite majestic until the very last page when the little bunny admits that he will never really be able to run away from his mother because she will always find him. How he responds always makes me laugh…food fixes everything!

“Shucks,” said the bunny, “I might just as well stay where I am and be your little bunny.” And so he did. “Have a carrot,” said the mother bunny.

I can highly recommend this picture book for children 2-4 years and below are more suggestions for books about mothers, their children and the bonds that tie them together:

by Emma Dodd

Mama, Will I Be Yours Forever?
by Anna Pignataro

Hand in Hand
by Rosemary Wells

Say It!
by Charlotte Zolotow
Illustrated by Charlotte Voake

I Promise
by David McPhail

I Want My Mum
by Tony Ross

I Would Dangle the Moon
by Amber Moffat

The Kiss Box
by Bonnie Verburg
Illustrated by Henry Cole

Loving Hands
by Tony Johnston
Illustrated by Amy June Bates

Tell Me the Day Backwards
by Albert Lamb
Illustrated by David McPhail

Mummy Time
by Judith Kerr

There’s No One I Love Like You
by Jutta Langreuter
Illustrated by Stephanie Dahle

by Alison Meghee
Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

No Matter What
by Debi Gliori

Like the Moon Loves the Sky
by Hena Khan
Illustrated by Saffa Khan

Guess How Much I Love You
by Sam McBratney
Illustrated by Anita Jeram

The Kissing Hand
by Audrey Penn
Illustrated by Ruth E. Harper
& Nancy M. Leak

Wild About Mums
by Philip Bunting

Counting On You
by Corinne Fenton
Illustrated by Robin Cowcher

Lorna Scobie: Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit!

Illustrated by the author

Published by Scholastic Children’s Books, 2020

We all make assumptions. About many things. It could be about a person or a place or even what a particular food might taste like because of its colour. We might make assumptions about someone’s behaviour or even an animal’s behaviour. We could assume that most cats like to chase mice, most dogs like to chase cats, and probably most foxes like to eat chickens and sometimes even rabbits. Sometimes we don’t even know what our assumptions are until they are challenged.

In this picture book we meet a young rabbit who assumes that he is the only one in the litter and he loves it that way. There is no need to share anything. He can have his own flower patch, his own stack of juicy carrots, his own private bedroom. Until one day he is joined by one sibling, and another and another and even another, and more again. Lost are all the privileges of being the only one.

Enter the fox next door who has declared his love of having rabbits for company.

And what do we assume? I think we assume the worst.

So, when the young rabbit asks the fox very kindly to take care of all those extra rabbits, we all take in a sharp breath. We think we know what is going to happen.

Yes, the young rabbit gets back his own flower patch, his own stack of juicy carrots and his own cosy bedroom, but the assumption he made about how he would feel when that happened was not what he thought. He misses his siblings and wants to be where they have gone.

So, into the fox’s den the young rabbit happily hops….and what do you assume will happen once he is inside?

Well, I can’t tell you…you will just have to read it yourself!

But remember, never assume because you may be wrong, but you could be right!

I can highly recommend this book for children 4-8 years old,  the illustrations cleverly aid the storyline and build tension to the very last page.

If you would like to read more books about foxes and rabbits, not necessarily in the same story and the list is not exhaustive (never assume!), here are some of my favourites:

I Want a Bunny! by
Tony Ross
The ABC Bunny by
Wanda Gag
Bunny Cakes by
Rosemary Wells
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
by Mo Willems
A Mouse Called Julian by
Joe Todd-Stanton
One Fox: A Counting Book Thriller
by Kate Read
Rosie’s Walk by
Pat Hutchins
The Very Sleepy Bear
by Nick Bland