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9.13.2008

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:


Sproing!*


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!)

WRONG.

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."

THE END


Fo' reals.

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!

15 comments:

  1. Wow, that's even better than Mango and the Square Green Cat!

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  2. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    Snort snort snort.

    (Too bad it doesn't come with the stuffed toy -- a little rabbit carrying a bow and arrows, perhaps?)

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  3. What the hell? What the freakin' hell?!
    Well, that's somewhat...frightening. I believe it's safe to safe this was the next big criminal's favourite book when he was a toddler.

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  4. I am so disappointed that this is not readily available. Because I would buy it for MYSELF, and I would read it and eat bonbons and laugh hysterically. Seriously, I would. :)

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  5. Love it, but yes, we won't be reading that any time soon.

    It reminds me of GUMBY THE MOVIE, which is terribly wacko and frightening, except the bad guys are in fact overcome in the end.

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  6. WOW! That book had to have been written for me! Evil rabbits? Crime? Getting mad at being called small and cute? It is so me. My current little rabbit Stella does not appreciate being called cute and resists being cuddled. She does, however, everything in her power to be tough, ram"bun"ctious, and destructive. Stella's fun.

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  7. Jamey -- I know, right? I totally thought of you.

    And you SO did not just say ram"bun"ctious! ;)

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  8. That is AWESOME. I have another wildly inappropriate picture book -- it's illustrated by Brian Froud and it's called Master Snickup's Cloak (great title, yes?). I'll have to dig it out to recall just how awful it was, but I know there was plague and crucifixion in it and it wasn't cute at all. Maybe I need to do a post on it!

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  9. Master Snickup's Cloak??

    I am speechless.

    Title . . . so brilliant.

    (Plus, BRIAN FROUD.) Yes, please post it!

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  10. No doubt was published by Prisonhouse Publishing, right? Maybe my "late" lifetime petty criminal cousin had this book read to him. What was the publishing date? I think he would have loved the book and the ending.

    Then too, my lifetime petty criminal former neighbor who is back in the "Hood" may have had it read to him too. For a mere 4 years he regularly broke into my home stealing food and damaged my home when not breaking in. AND HE IS BACK IN THE HOOD!!! Wonderful, huh? Lives in the nearby woods. Oh, in the book, is there, like in my life, some corrupt police who refuse to arrest the guy, even letting him run away at times? My "late" cousin and former neighbor could appreciate that, if it is in the book.

    Anyway, shouldn't criminals have their own books and bedtime stories? Equal rights and all that stuff? I hear they root for and identify with the crook in movies.

    Now, part of this was me laughing and part of it is sadly true. If one can, maybe one should try to trace back the origins of this book and what was behind its writing and publishing. Of course, one would have to be quite industrious and not given to laziness to do this. I think that would make quite an interesting story.

    Today may be my "late" cousin's birthday. Not sure when my former neighbor was born. Exploring how people get to this point and how such books might appeal to them; to their lasting ruin or to getting their attention about being on the wrong path--sorry, too long to explain that, but let's say parents telling child there is no such happy ending as in the story--might be worthy of exploring. Forgive me, so many thoughts at once.

    Maybe good writers do not explore the safe, but the unsafe territory. Remember the truth of Grimms original tales, they were not nice stories with happy endings. Maybe writers and publishers have abandoned this with a political correctness that has blinded us to too many truths we should be seeing, even when young.

    Thank you. In the end, you have made me think. Laughing at life's realities and looking at life from the other side of the fence, is sometimes helpful. Maybe "Bad" bedtime stories would serve a useful purpose. In some "Hoods" where bullets fly regularly and people fall too often to their flight, your rabbit book might actually describe their reality. Laugable, huh?

    Again, thanks for making me think. I hope I have said a thing or two that will make you laugh and given you some food for thought. I started this post for laughter and to share a dose of reality, but feel YOU have given me something precious; new knowledge. Take care, God bless, and thank you one more time. Bye.

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  11. Googled this book because i just heard about it. Thanks for a fun, complete blog about why I never would get this book!

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  12. Anonymous3:05 PM GMT-5

    My parents read this book to me when I was young and I am just fine. Don't underestimate children, they've had our societies puritanical morals shoved down their throats since birth, one little bunny isn't going to wipe all that away. Especially if they've been brought up to think for themselves. We just thought it was hillarious! :)

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    1. I totally agree. My kids roared with laughter when we first read this book together (they are nice kids too). Surely the point of great kids books (eg Roald Dahl) is that the wicked bits are hugely funny to children - the adults are just an afterthought!

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  13. Was so excited to see your post on this hidden classic Stephanie!
    I've loved this book for years. I have read it to my own children, and they didn't seem too badly affected.
    Angry bunnies probably do exist - and we found the whole Jack Carrot and Jim Radish scenario quite an entertaining read. Okay so getting away with crime is not a good thing - but we already knew that. Reading about animals with human characteristics is a fabulous way of telling a good story, with many meanings, though. Ask George Orwell or Beatrix Potter if you don't believe me!

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  14. The was, far and away, my son's favorite book when he was two. It really gave him a sense of power and possibility. I was surprised that our local library had it on the shelves. Not any worse than Roald Dahl, really.

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