This is a book I hold dear, not only because of childhood memories of reading it throughout the year (not just at Easter!), but also because of the lessons I have learned from the tale, among which are:
• Children Have a Profound Ability to Shoulder Responsibility: Mother Cottontail trains her children to be very responsible. She teaches them skills around the house and garden, and that each of them can do small things to make family life lovely. They are each sweet, polite and industrious, and valued members of the family.
• The Role of Parent is Pre-Eminent: I believe that the Country Bunny is chosen to be one of the 5 Easter Bunnies not in spite of her children, but because of her children. For a season, Cottontail “stopped thinking about hopping all over the world… and she took care of her babies.” The book relates that being a mother or father is of greatest importance, and can be a stepping stool in building our ability to achieve other goals (which will also bless the world).
• You Will Be Entrusted with Seemingly Impossible Tasks, But Aided in the Accomplishment of Those Duties: Cottontail grew up in humble circumstances and experienced the difficult work of parenting. As such, when chosen as the fifth Easter Bunny, she has the ability to understand and to feel to act for many, and yet also to make great efforts for the one – in this case, a lonely, sick child on a remote mountaintop. A difficult journey is entrusted to her. With great effort she makes it up the mountain, but then an accident happens and she tumbles down injuring her foot, just as the sun is about to rise. Before all hope is lost, she feels a tap on her shoulder from Grandfather Bunny, who commends her for her bravery and awards her Gold Shoes, which she places on her feet, enabling her to deliver the last egg of Easter!
I remember seeing, sitting upon the shelf in my mom and dad’s bathroom, a porcelain figurine: that of Mother Cottontail with 5 bunny babies in her arms and 16 babies swaddled in the bassinet. I loved to count them while mom braided my hair! And my mom would say, “Emi, motherhood prepares you for everything.” This is true (I know this because of my own mother’s example!).
May each of us strive to be wise, kind, swift, clever and brave.
My favorite illustrations as a child were those of Cottontail and her children lined up, as well as the great hall in Grandfather Bunny's castle with eggs piled against the walls. As a mother, my favorite illustrations are those which depict the ways in which Mother Bunny taught her children to work!