Archive for January 28th, 2018

by Sam Juliano

Wendell Minor has boarded a time machine back to the Revolutionary and Civil War eras, has accessed nature sanctuaries in remote locations like the Galapagos Islands, the Sequoia rain forests and Waldon Pond, has profoundly interpreted the work of some of America’s greatest artists, has transcribed the iconographic essence of our nation’s literary past, and has even journeyed to the moon with one of the most famous of astronauts.  This erstwhile purveyor of some of our country’s most cherished moments and the great outdoors has stood tall as an indefatigable champion of endangered species, ecological vigilance and a glorious past too often obscured by technological advancements.  Yet for all his epic concerns, and cultural homages the simple intimacy on display in the books he crafted with his wife, the author Florence Friedman Minor have maintained a remarkable staying power with his young readers, and remain among the most popular titles in what may well be the most varied catalog of any artist of children’s books.  Florence Minor’s If You Were A Panda Bear and If You Were A Penguin have been abiding favorites in classrooms, and prime examples of effective language and pictorial rapport.  Early in 2017, the Minors again collaborated on How To Be a Bigger Bunny a charming tale of fortitude.

How To Be a Bigger Bunny is adorned with pastel Easter-time colors, though aside from the prohibitive attendance of a cast brought to intrepid fame in a beloved classic novel by Richard Adams, its message isn’t secular but more of the life-affirming variety.  Still, it would seem disingenuous to omit it from any collection of notable children books about Christianity’s holiest day essentially because of its conforming palette and its kinship with that holiday’s fluffy mascot.  Indeed the book’s eight and a half by eight and a half square trim size invites nocturnal placement in any young child’s Easter basket before the break of dawn.  As to the quadrilateral trim, the Minors know well it denotes amenity and contentment or if you will a strong desire not to “leave the box.” Yet if a young reader proceeds with comforting assurance, young Tickles, the smallest bunny in her family is no Ferdinand the Bull, regardless of the pastoral allure of daffodil patches and how appealing it is to engage in extended meditative sessions.  Bigger Bunny turns out to be a kind of “hot box” where lessons are learned through trial or tribulation and a newfound level of respect follows a timely act of bravery. (more…)

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