The Little Gray Bunny
Barbara Barbieri McGrath, author
Barbara McGrath has written over twenty books for children, including The Little Red Elf, and many bestselling math concept books. She lives in Natick, Massachusetts.
Read more about Barbara.
Violet Kim, illustrator
Violet Kim is a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design and the illustrator of Earth Day, Birthday! She lives in South Korea.
Read more about Violet.
McGrath extends her series of holiday-themed retellings of "The Little Red Hen" with her third entry, this time focusing on Easter.
On an old-fashioned farm, a gray bunny is getting ready for Easter in the barn where he lives with his three friends: a lamb, a turtle and a duck. The bunny is resourceful and industrious, like his Little Red Hen counterpart, but the three friends are predictably lazy and self-involved. The lamb focuses on finding more hay, the turtle hides and plays peekaboo, and the duck searches for any sort of water for swimming. The text follows the familiar structure of the traditional tale, with lots of humor woven in, including silly responses from the turtle and clever rejoinders from the bunny. ("These creatures have no artistic imagination.") Cartoon-style illustrations in watercolor, pen and gouache add zing with a bright palette of springtime colors and an individual personality for each character. The lazy friends get their comeuppance just as in the original story, when the bunny enjoys the Easter goodies and the friends are stuck with just-hatched, mischievous chicks instead of cupcakes and jelly beans.
An amusing tale, especially for children already familiar with the original folk tale.
In a clever reimagining of the familiar tale "The Little Red Hen," McGrath offers a barnyard romp with hardworking Bunny, hay-munching Lamb, image-obsessed Turtle, and water-loving Duck. While the others pursue their favorite leisure activities, Bunny does all the work in the barn. One day he discovers hundreds of eggs and decides to collect, boil, dye, and hide the eggs in the nearby meadow. Of course no one will help him until it is time for the fun part--hunting for the eggs. In an interesting but teachable twist, the surprise the others get for finding the eggs is newborn chicks (with require a lot of work), while Bunny rewards himself with jelly beans and cupcakes. The result is a colorful, delightful story that youngsters will enjoy--and maybe even learn from--especially at Easter time.
The Little Red Hen folktale gets an Easter makeover in this story of a rabbit whose friends aren’t interested in helping collect, boil, decorate, and hide Easter eggs. McGrath (who offered a different holiday twist on this story in The Little Red Elf) deviates from the traditional repeated "Not I" responses, as the lamb, turtle, and duck snarkily refuse the rabbit’s attempts to engage them ("Do you even know me?" says the duck, lounging in its bathtub). Kim’s (Earth Day, Birthday!) T-shirt-wearing, turnip-headed hero exudes a sense of both earnestness and mischief, the latter surfacing in the wry "treats" he gives his not-so-helpful friends in the end—a trio of hyperactive, newly-hatched little red hens.
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
In this Easter-themed retelling of "The Little Red Hen," a little gray bunny is the one trying to get his lazy pals—a lamb, a turtle, and a duck—to help out with Easter preparations, primarily the collecting, boiling, dyeing, and hiding of a multitude of eggs. His requests for help are continuously refused with increasing disdain on the part of his friends. When his last-ditch effort fails to goad the trio into action, the bunny tries another tactic. After his pals eagerly fill their baskets with the colored eggs (which the little gray bunny collected, boiled, dyed, and hid by himself) and then demand more treats, the bunny promptly presents them each with an egg (which is visibly and portentously cracked). The eggs quickly hatch into obstreperous red chicks, which are last seen pestering the life out of the lamb, turtle, and duck while the bunny sits in the shade eating his well-earned cupcakes. McGrath's narration is pithy and droll, make this a pleasure to read aloud, and the "Little Red Hen" connection makes this particularly useful at storytime or in the classroom. Kim's cartoonish watercolor, pen, and gouache art is a bit on the bland side, but the cheerful springtime tones and cute animals keep things visually appealing; her little gray bunny, with his inverted-heart-shaped head, long, droopy ears, and bright red t-shirt, is an endearingly friendly-looking little guy. Tuck this one in the Easter basket, or use it as an amusing readers' theater piece.
Page count: 32
9 x 9