I hadn’t planned on reviewing another Easter-bunny-delivers-eggs book. I thought that, once I’d reviewed The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, there was no need to review another book of that genre. But then a friend asked me to review The Easter Egg by Jan Brett.
And how could I resist? I adore Jan Brett!
There’s nothing about the holy feast of Easter in the book. It’s entirely secular, as all Easter-bunny-delivers-eggs are. But The Easter Egg is sweet the way all of Jan Brett’s stories are sweet. In this one, a little rabbit named Hoppi wants to make a wonderful Easter egg for the Easter egg competition. He visits the other rabbits to see what they’re doing, and they share suggestions and advice and materials.
And then a robin’s egg falls out of its nest, and Hoppi chooses to help the mama robin and protect the egg until it hatches. That means he can’t make a beautiful egg like the other rabbits. But, of course, this egg matters more than any of the others.
So the story is simple and sweet. But the illustrations are what make the book utterly irresistible.
The rabbits in The Easter Egg aren’t generic bunnies. Each one is a particular rabbit of a specific type or breed, drawn with meticulous accuracy – assuming that you accept that the rabbits can wear clothes and use tools. Flora, in her dress and straw hat and leather gloves, is an Angora and a gardener. Hans Vanderabbit wears a smock and has paint brushes tucked behind his hears, because he’s an artist. And he’s a Havana. Granny Ireney makes Pysanky eggs, and she’s a Himalayan.
As you expect with a Jan Brett book, the frames that surround the main illustration of each spread include medallions that let you see what’s going on in other places. The robins’ nest is in the medallion at the top of the pages. The side medallions show more rabbits working on their eggs.
The frames themselves are constructed of willow branches and ferns and flowers. The flowers are so perfectly detailed that you could imagine them in a field guide or a botany text. Trout lilies and trilliums, Solomon’s seals and skunk cabbages, Dutchman’s breeches and buttercups: You could spend an age just looking at the flowers.
And the willow branches. In the first frame, they are bare twigs. As you turn each page, the buds begin to swell. Then the familiar white fuzzy catkins form, growing larger and fuzzier. And perhaps you start to imagine, as you look at them, that they look a bit like tiny white rabbits …
One of the special treats in the book is a fold-out page. When the Easter Bunny himself appears, the three-page spread is magnificent.
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