The Hungry Little Bunny

Last Thursday was a gold banner day – a once in a lifetime day! And it is all thanks to social media and the Throwback Thursday theme. Two weeks ago I decided to post my first #tbt picture on Facebook. Last week I chose a picture of myself sharing a favorite book with my 6-month old sister.

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After I ran it through the scanner and had the picture enlarged on my computer, I gave a gasp. OMG! It was THAT book. The one I’d been looking for most of my adult life. My favorite book as a young child. I could describe it. I remembered the story about the rabbit that didn’t want his carrots and went around to see what the other animals ate. But I didn’t remember the name of the book or what the cover looked like. I had been looking for it FOREVER. At least it felt like it. I had searched libraries, described it to old children’s librarians, gone through the union catalog at library school hoping to find a likely title, searched the Golden Book archives, and tried multiple search strategies online.

Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I guess they are right! I got to work searching Google images for 1950s children’s books about rabbits. It didn’t take long to find a cover of a rabbit that had the same distinctive black ears that you can see in the photo above. The minute I saw it I got goosebumps. But I still wasn’t sure. Then I found this You Tube video of someone reading the book: The Hungry Little Bunny. The minute I saw the first page, I started crying. Yes, at work. I found my book!!!

Here it is on ebay, and this book is now MINE:

Hungry Little Bunny

Update: April 22

I was out of town visiting my folks for Easter this past weekend. Got home very late last night so didn’t check the mail box until on my way to work this morning. Yes, a package had arrived! I opened it as soon as I got to work. My co-workers have followed this story and felt that this moment required documentation, so with cell phone at the ready:

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There I am, trying not cry yet again! It’s been quite the emotional journey! The book is in excellent condition and has that wonderful old book smell. Looking at it now, the illustrations are absolutely wonderful. I love how realistic the animals are, but at the same time they have the exaggerated big eyes that make baby animals so cute. Was this inspiration for the film animators of Bambi?

Hungry Bunny

And look at the wonderful flowers! I wouldn’t have noticed that at age 3, but the gardener me does now. Almost every page has a different flower illustrated, like the lady slipper and the bellflower shown here.

Still 5 stars after 55 years!

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Primrose Day

Primrose Day title pagePrimrose Day by Carolyn Haywood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was my favorite book in 1st or 2nd grade. I read it over and over. It must have made a big impression. All these years later I have to wonder did my interest in England start with this book or are we drawn to things because of past lives? Did I identify with Merry because we both had flowers for middle names? Or because I had moved from New England to Minnesota when I was 5? I’m sure the language differences weren’t as great, but there were some. I loved that the British word for truck was lorry, pronounced the same as my nickname – Laurie. I’ve always loved learning about other countries and cultures and am still enamored of the British Isles.

I could not find a cover photo of the original edition, and I do not like the modern covers on reprints of this book, so I’ve scanned the title page above. I remember the cover as being orange and it probably had the heavy duty “library binding.” I requested the original 1942 edition from Interlibrary Loan. It came from the Twin Cities Anderson Library Children’s Literature Collection. It is a plain yellow cloth cover and still has the old pocket in the back with the date due card. I have to admit that just thumbing through it and reading a few words here and there and looking at the original drawings (by Carolyn Haywood) brought tears to my eyes.

Primrose Day
Carolyn Haywood wrote stories about real children doing ordinary things. And even though it was first published in 1942, these are things that children still do today – playing with pets, dealing with homesickness, being teased at school, making presents, going on picnics, going fishing, making friends. I remember the chapter on going to an American school and being teased for using different words for things. And I remember the chapter about Merry’s birthday, and learning that primroses don’t grow wild in America. Merry would always go and pick primroses with her mother on her birthday and now she can’t even pick primroses with her aunt. But never fear – her aunt has a wonderful surprise in store.

Primroses

English primroses (Primula vulgaris)

I love gardening and I have planted primroses in my garden. The English variety are not hardy here. I had some very pretty pink Japanese primroses for a couple years, but even those are really Zone 5 and they didn’t come back last year. I must get some more, because I really do love them! I don’t think I have any pictures of them blooming, but here are some beaded primroses that I made:

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I did not remember the Scottie dog in the story, although I have always liked Scottie dogs. There were a couple of typos and things in the book that I wouldn’t have noticed as a child probably – the cook says she is “pealing” onions. And there is a reference to Mr. Ramsey being a “Scotchman” which made me cringe.

I also don’t remember the knitting, but I suppose it was around this age that I expressed an interest in learning. My grandmother tried to teach me. At first she thought she needed to reverse everything because I am left handed. I protested that she really didn’t need to do that. Us lefties are quite used to mentally reversing things for ourselves, having done it all our lives. It wouldn’t have been a problem for me at age 7 or 8, but my grandmother insisted that she had to do it for me and got herself hopelessly confused. I finally convinced her that I would be fine knitting right handed – it didn’t matter to me since knitting uses both hands equally!

Book Description: Merry Primrose Ramsey lives in England with her parents and her imaginary friend, Molly. At the outbreak of World War II, she is sent to live with her relatives in America, in a small town called Rose Valley. On the way over she meets a real best friend named Molly, who eventually moves to Rose Valley, too. Merry and her American cousin Jerry take to each other immediately and find all kinds of adventures, including rescuing a carrier pigeon and going fishing alone. Merry’s new life is not without trials. She misses her parents. She gets teased at school for the way she talks. Her puppy unravels the scarf she has spent weeks knitting for her daddy far away in England. And her birthday just won’t be the same without primroses to pick and make into a primrose chain like she always did in England…

I have been doing a bit of “Googling” and decided that Rose Valley in the story must be Rose Valley, PA, which is near Philadelphia (where Carolyn Haywood lived). It is a very small town, but would be within a couple hours train ride of NYC. It was settled by Quakers and has a very interesting history, which you can read about here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_Valley,_Pennsylvania.