Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pat the Bunny

Book: Pat the Bunny
Creator: Dorothy Kunhardt
Publisher: Golden Books, Random House Children's Books

In honor of the blog's title, I thought the first book post should be about its namesake, the baby book classic, Pat the Bunny. Pat the Bunny is one of the most famous children's books ever--in my extensive research from reading the back of the book, it's sold over six million copies since it was first published in 1940. It's even a Hallmark ornament! (Which I have, of course, since it combines two of my own mom's favorite things: Pat the Bunny and Hallmark.)

But like many classics that I haven't read in a while, my memory of it was a little different than the actual book.

I loved Pat the Bunny because of all the fun things to DO. When you're older, books don't really let you DO a whole lot, other than turn pages (and think, I suppose). Which is great, but I like a book with a verb in its title. (I just want to point out here that "Pat the Bunny" refers to actually patting the cottony fuzzy bunny, and that Pat isn't the bunny's name. The bunny's name is just Bunny (as we learn from the "Judy's Book" section--more below).

Anyway, I was so excited for the baby to do all the things I remembered: Mailing the letter! Answering the old-fashioned phone! I couldn't wait to help our baby do it all. Brad and I ventured to the bookstore while I was pregnant to buy our own copy.

Then I realized, after wandering around for a while and searching on the store's computer, that the book I had many fond memories of was actually the very similar The Telephone Book, which is currently out of print.

This is sort of like how, when you ask someone who likes the Beatles what their favorite song is, it's never one that's played on the radio, but something from the White Album like "Blackbird"--a great classic in its own right, but not as famous, for who knows what reasons.

Anyway, back to Pat the Bunny, the more well-known of Dorothy Kunhardt's books, but not the one I remembered the most. However, it all came back to me when I started reading it with Baby Henry.

I will update more as I have more sleepy thoughts while reading the book for the next several, um, years!

My current favorite spread: Judy's Book.

I love the book within a book, and I remember the words of Judy's Book more than the rest of Pat the Bunny! "Hear the tick-tick, Bunny?" and "How Big Is Bunny"/ "So-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o big!" especially. Plus, the fact that "Judy's Book" is all about the Bunny is funny. At least, it's funny on a few hours of sleep, and Henry seems entertained by it.

I'm further intrigued because Judy seems to be looking at a page that isn't in the "Judy's Book" version we get to see.

My current least-favorite spread (and least favorite from when I was little, too): The Stinky Flowers.

I never thought these flowers smelled good. I don't know why Paul likes to smell them. If they must have a scent, I would hope they could smell better after all this time and with our modern technology. They sort of smell like soap, only not in a clean way.

Baby Henry's favorite spread: Not apparent just yet for Pat the Bunny

Deep thoughts: In terms of how Pat the Bunny is illustrated, I like how the characters float on the page (there are no horizon lines), and have simple lines. It makes it look like a how-to manual, which is exactly what it is, in a way: how to have fun with a book; how to read and look and feel a book. I appreciate the delightfully soft bunny now more than ever, in the age of eBooks and Kindle. Technology has many fantastic uses, but there is something special about the joy of holding a book. Pat the Bunny reminds me of that.

I will post another entry on Pat the Bunny after I read the book I got Brad (shh!), the very lovely and hefty Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children's Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, and Became an American Icon Along the Way. From a quick skim, though, I've already learned that the Bunny is based on a real-life stuffed animal bunny! I'm intrigued. I hope you are, too.


  1. I still think the Bunny's name should be Pat, but I guess it isn't. Maybe someone will be able to find a new copy of The Telephone Book for you ;)

  2. "Everyone who's grown up in America since it was originally published in 1940 knows what it is."

    I grew up in America and I'd never heard of this book until you pointed it out to me last year. Even then, I think I missed the window of when I would have fallen in love with it. Too bad. I'm sure I would have loved getting to pat the bunny when I was a kid.

    I think you need to invent some interactive ability with this blog, so I could pat the blog for real. :)

  3. MoS: A new Telephone Book?!

    RC: I changed the blog's wording, so it's now more inclusive. I don't want to exclude you from enjoying Pat the Bunny at any age. :) Although I think you might enjoy a "spinoff" called Pat the Pony ( even more.

    You bring up an interesting point about enjoying books for nostalgia. I will have to consider that as I have read books. I definitely judge more recently written baby books more harshly than the ones I remember from when I was little.

  4. Pat the Pony book must be enormous...

  5. Aww! Pat the Pony would totally have been my kind of book. It might even still be my kind of book...if, as Cody pointed out, I could get it in my house. :)

  6. Nice blog! I have never read Pat the Bunny. Can you believe it? I'm thinking of rushing off right now to get a copy for baby's Easter basket.

  7. Dorothy Kunhardt
    you are great creator ,I definitely judge more recently written baby books more harshly than the ones I remember from when I was little.I was so excited for the baby to do all the things