Don't Call Me Little Bunny by Gregoire Solotareff -- the most messed up picture book you've never heard of
Look! I'm not talking about revisions!
Instead I'm sharing one of my favorite picture books with you, Don't Call Me Little Bunny by Gregoire Solotareff, 1988.
Never heard of it? I hadn't either.
We were discussing terrible children's books at work recently, and my supervisor mentioned this forgotten gem. At one point, all of the branches in our library system had it, but since then, it has dwindled down to one.
(My real question is why we all had it in the first place. It must have gotten a good review. Why why why???)
Now, I don't love Little Bunny because I think it's GOOD (and I *DO* love Little Bunny). As far as content is concerned, it's pretty much the worst picture book ever conceived. I love it because it's so wildly inappropriate, and I'm flabbergasted as to how it was ever published, nevertheless written in the first place.
It's long out of print and completely obscure, so hopefully no publishing Big Wigs will mind if I share the story with you...
It's about a bunny named Jack Carrot. But no one calls him this, they call him Little Bunny, because according to Jack's grandfather, "small rabbits are cute and cuddly."
So far so good right? I mean this is a FACT, as evidenced time and time again by Cute Overload:
But Jack is NOT a fan of his nickname. And when he gets bigger, the other rabbits are still calling him Little Bunny! What's a moody teenage rabbit to do??
Why, become the "most rascally rabbit anyone has ever seen," of course!
But being rascally isn't just throwing snowballs and stepping on candy. No. To be TRULY RASCALLY, you've got to give it your all.
And how does one do that?
Oh, with just your simple, average, run-o-the-mill bank robbery.
"Armed with a real pistol, a bow and arrows, a very pointy dagger and a sword, he held up a bank . . . Jack had no use for the money. He only wanted to strike fear in the hearts of people and rabbits."
Oh yeah. A picture book about a bank-robbing bunny striking fear in the hearts of people (and rabbits) with a real pistol and a very pointy dagger.
But wait! It gets better!
So he skis away from the heist (Yes. He skis. He's European. That's how criminals do it in France.) and is caught by a Big Bad Policewolf.
Oh no! Little Bunny is hauled away to prison.
"The police had taken his weapons and he was all alone. It was dark. He began to cry."
Aww, they away took his weapons. Snort.
(But wait! It gets better!)
So Jack Carrot meets another jailbunny named Jim Radish. Jim is in prison for MURDERING a hunter.
"If I hadn't killed him, he would've killed me," says Jim. Which, okay, seems sort of fair to me. But instead of -- I dunno, deciding to become better citizens -- they make a pact! To escape from jail!
So they dig a tunnel ("It was a specialty of theirs, after all") and run to Jack's grandfather's house.
And this is the point where SURELY some morality comes in. Right? RIGHT??
(Come on, Grandpa! Give these boys a talkin' to!)
Grandpa hides them in a secret burrow and brings them food and blankets and chocolate and chewing gum and the evening paper. The headline reads: GREAT ESCAPE OF TWO LITTLE BUNNIES.
"Jack and Jim found this vastly funny."
So they stay in their mountain hideout, and Jack's grandfather continues to visit. And "when the police have forgotten about them, they will leave their hiding place. But they are in no hurry to go."
This book blows my mind. Can you imagine reading it to a three year-old?
"And the moral of the story, Susie, is that if someone is mean to you and you threaten them with weapons, you can always escape from jail. And I'll hide you in my backyard and give you candy until the cops forget about you."
I'm just happy it exists for my own, sick sake. Thank you, Solotareff. Let's do lunch.
* Look who's got the cute baby animals now, Laini!