Many people, Christian and non-Christian, have heard of Mary Magdalene. She appears in the Bible at prominent places in Christ’s life—two being at Easter: she was with the women who discovered Jesus was not in the tomb, having risen from the dead. And in another reading while walking in the garden the newly risen Jesus appears to her. She mistakes him for a gardener.
Dan Brown speculates in his blockbuster novel, The DaVinci Code, that the woman Mary Magdalene had a major role in the beginnings of the Christian church. Some early gospels that did not make it into the Bible support this concept.
Maybe that’s why DuBose Heyward, a southern author who is best known for his novel Porgy that was the basis for Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, wrote The Country Bunny and The Little Gold Shoes. The title page states: as told to Jenifer, some small female child in Heyward’s life who needed to know that her sex didn’t have to hold her back from becoming anything she wanted to be.
This heart-felt story cherished by many families during the Easter season, tells the tale of a simple mother bunny and how she became one of the five Easter Bunnies who travel the world bringing baskets of colored eggs and candy to children. With a copyright of 1939, it’s a tale ahead of its time.
The storyteller describes his heroine as: “a little country girl bunny with a brown skin and a little cotton-ball of a tail.” Her dream was to grow up and become one of the Easter Bunnies. “You wait and see!” she would say. But the Jack Rabbits with long legs and the big white bunnies who lived in fine houses scoffed at her and put her down.
After Cottontail grows up and has twenty-one Cottontail babies, these same Jacks and big rabbits really laugh at her. “What did we tell you! Only a country rabbit would go and have all those babies. Now take care of them and leave Easter eggs to great big men bunnies like us.” Heyward writes that “they went away liking themselves very much.”
The Grandfather Easter Bunny who is wise and kind, lives in the Palace of the Easter Eggs. In the story he must select a fifth bunny. This is Cottontail’s chance. She brings all of her 21 children to the tryouts where the Grandfather cannot help but notice her.
He tests her to see if she is as wise and kind as he is. But she must also be swift. When she scatters her 21 children and in seconds is able to round them up again, the Grandfather is convinced. She will be his fifth Easter Bunny. The writer tells us that when Cottontail arrives at the Palace of the Easter Eggs for this amazing duty, the other four Easter Bunnies do not laugh at her—“for they were wise and kind and knew better.”
Cottontail meets her challenges during this charming tale, her deep desire and loving heart capturing every reader and providing a sunny Easter morning finish.
The book is available in bookstores.