Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Runaway Bunny, written by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd

This is one case where, when I first read this book, it wasn't a favorite. I probably would have given it a 3 at most b/c it just bugged me that the bunny wanted to run away. That said, I've gained a whole new appreciation for this sweet story as a multi-purpose lesson platform--AND sweet story. I piggybacked this lesson onto a previous lesson where I shared Goodnight Moon (also by the Brown and Hurd team) and Goodnight Goon (by Michael Rex). The Runaway Bunny was originally copyrighted in 1942, a full 5 years before Goodnight Moon's date of 1947. Some of what made it fun to piggyback these books was pointing out that Hurd used some images/ideas from Runaway Bunny in Goodnight Moon--and by using a document camera, it's easy to lay the two books out side by side to show that the Mama Bunny Fisherman image was duplicated as a black and white painting in the Goodnight Moon bedroom and that both books included a cow jumping over the moon. Other similarities? Both books used the black and white to color then back to black and white color pattern and in both books the bunny was wearing blue striped pajamas.

Because I shared Goodnight Moon first, many of my students were wondering if Hurd hid something in Runaway Bunny--such as the mouse he hid in the color pictures of Goodnight Moon. While he didn't hide a mouse in Runaway Bunny, Hurd's images added extra depth to Brown's words. In this sense, the book also works well for pointing out how illustrations can enhance a story when an illustrator takes the words and adds all new depth to them--e.g., the painting of mama bunny fishing for baby bunny trout--using a carrot as bait. Pausing at this picture and giving kids a chance to discover the unusual bait usually gets a giggle out of them. With the older students, I also enjoy asking them if they've heard of or seen the Van Gogh painting, Starry Night then turning to the picture that shows a snippet of what looks suspiciously like Starry Night, hanging in the Bunny home.

Funny how reading a story and discussing it 50 different times can be so eye-opening--and how it can breathe new life into what seemed to be just a simple, sweet bedtime story. The Runaway Bunny is exactly that--but it is also so very much more.

Other discussion topics? Contractions, compound words, use of quotation marks, and, when paired with Michael Rex's The Runaway Mummy, parody.

1 comment:

  1. Hello,
    I was wondering if you had an email where I can contact you about doing some picture book reviews.