One-Minute Book Reviews

April 1, 2007

Who Framed Peter Rabbit? All the Publishers Who Bring You Cheesy Knock-Offs

Bad bunny books and some recommended substitutions for the Easter basket

If you’re looking good books about bunnies, beware of the words “based on.” That phrase on a cover is usually a tip-off that you aren’t getting the original text, pictures or both. And some books omit even that red flag. Two examples are Peter Rabbit (Ideals, $3.95) and The Velveteen Rabbit (Ideals, $3.95), which have the words of Beatrix Potter and Margery Williams but pictures far inferior to those in the best-known editions of their books. Publishers can do this because The Tale of Peter Rabbit and The Velveteen Rabbit are out of copyright in the U.S. (though not necessarily in all other countries). Some knock-offs of these classics cost as much as books with the original text and art.

So why not go for the real thing? Or consider any of the many other good books about rabbits. They include Pat the Bunny (Golden Books, $9.99, ages 1–3) by Dorothy Kunhardt; The Runaway Bunny (HarperCollins, $16.99, ages 2–5), by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd; and Bunny Cakes and Bunny Money (Picture Puffins, $5.99 each, ages 3–5), by Rosemary Wells, or other titles in Wells’s hilarious “Max and Ruby” series about a brother and sister rabbit. For ages 6 and up, consider the chapter-books about Bunnicula the “vampire rabbit” (well, it does drain juice from vegetables), by James Howe and Deborah Howe, illustrated Alan Daniel. The titles in this comic mystery series may tell you all you need to know: Bunnicula, Bunnicula Strikes Again!, Howliday Inn, Return to Howliday Inn and The Celery Stalks at Midnight (Aladdin, $4.99–$5.99 each).

A review of the best children’s versions of the Easter story appeared on this site on March 17, 2007. You can find it archived with the March posts and under “Children’s Books” if this direct link doesn’t work:

Links: Search the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia for the terms “The Velveteen Rabbit,” “Pat the Bunny” and “The Runaway Bunny” for more information about these books and pictures of the original illustrations. Search for “Bunnicula” to learn more about that series, which has been adapted for television.

[Update posted 4/04/04: If you are looking for pictures of rabbits that your child can color, click on the link to Rosemary Wells’s Web site listed above. Her site has lively pictures of the rabbits Max and Ruby that you can download.]

“Snap” Preview is enabled on One-Minute Book Reviews. This means that if you just put your cursor on the link to Rosemary Wells’s site, you can see the cover of one of her “Max and Ruby” books. You don’t have to click on the link and go to her site. Try it with this link to see another photo of me and of the covers of my novels

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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