by Tao Nyeu
This trio of stories about a sextet of bunnies is pitch-perfect for your toddler. With just one sentence per page, and a delightfully complete, limited palette and bold outline, Tao Nyeu’s book may well remind you of another favorite bunny tale from Dorothy Kunhardt (Pat the Bunny). As the first story (“Muddy Bunnies”) opens, six sugar-white rabbits are “soaking up the sun” and communing with a frog on a patchwork landscape of carrot-orange and cornflower blue rolling hills. Eagle-eye youngsters will note a mass of brown blobs that dot the road where Mr. Goat travels on his tractor. “Splash” goes the tractor. “What a mess!” reads the text above a now brown-and-white group of bunnies. “They need some help from Bear.” Bear, as white as the bunnies, washes them in the “delicate cycle”; a full-bleed spread shows glimpses of cotton tails, ear tips and hind paws as the washing machine goes “swish swash.” Then Bear hangs them up on the clothesline to dry. Nyeu knows that preschoolers endow their stuffed animals with human traits, and she expertly blends the real and imaginary.
In the other stories, Mrs. Goat vacuums up the autumn leaves that fall in her yard and accidentally vacuums up the six bunnies (“dozing deep underground”) and, in the spring, as Mr. Goat watches a butterfly, he inadvertently clips a couple of tails off of the bunnies! Each time, it’s Bear to the rescue. Bear (whose gender is never identified) comes up with a brilliant and humorous solution for ensuring the bunnies’ future safety from the vacuum’s suction, and makes magic with a sewing machine (to reattach the errant bunny tails). Your youngster can also follow a subtle secondary story line in each plot, involving a bird, frog and, of course, the butterfly in the final selection. In every picture, your toddler can pick out all six bunnies (sometimes only a cottontail is visible), and the last spread depicts all of the characters (including frog, bird and butterfly) sharing tea and cake. All three stories end with the line, “Everyone is happy.” Your young book lovers will be, too, and they’ll beg for these bunny tales time and again.