This was the first book I ever read on my own (and didn't just memorize in my dire quest to learn to read), and once again, it is no surprise I have a masters degree in Women's Studies. Written in 1939, this short, beautifully illustrated children's book discusses sexism, racism and classism all in a tale about the Easter Bunny, of which there are five, and all of whom are well-to-do tall white rabbits. That is, until the little brown bunny shows them up and saves the day.
Strangely, I thought about this book a lot around the time I was getting married. One of my earliest memories is reading the book aloud, particularly the line, "and by and by she had a husband." I pronounced it "hush-band" and was thoroughly displeased with my kindergarten self (nerd, remember). And now, 25 years later, I still think "hush-band" every time I talk about my husband.
But that line has more to it than my realization that I would make mistakes. Not only does that line suggest that the bunny had a life prior to marriage, one of the major themes is that when she does get married she is burdened with numerous children (the need for birth control!) and must find a way to balance her desire to be an Easter Bunny with the care of her home and children (working women! valuing work in the home! work/family balance!). Though one wonders if that "by and by" part means husband-bunny took off and she is single mom too, since he is nowhere to be seen again.
In short, the book is amazing and I was glad to see that the New Yorker reviewed it last month:
Lyrical writing, glowing illustrations, fuel for the imagination, a sense of humor, and, of course, a message: plucky little girl bunnies who defy prejudice and believe in themselves can grow up to become fully actualized lady bunnies who raise smart, happy, kind children and do fulfilling work outside the warren.