Friday, November 21, 2014

The Little Rabbit; The Little Lamb; The Little Duck by Phoebe and Judy Dunn

 There are the classics that you know why they're classics, be it clever marketing, perfect grasp of the audience, sheer literary and artistic merit, etc. Then there are the books you remember from your childhood; they may be utterly weird and completely outdated, but they are a part of you. Then there are the books that fall somewhere in between. The ones that you loved as a child, that have some outdated aspects to them, but somehow hang on, year after year after year.

Phoebe and Judy Dunn's photographed stories of farm animals fall into this last category. When I first realized they were still in print, I was thrilled and decided to treat myself (and my library) to a collection. To my delighted surprise, it became one of our most popular titles.

My personal copies from my childhood have long disappeared, but I found the originals were easy to replace and just as lovable as ever. In The Little Rabbit, Sarah finds a white baby bunny in her Easter basket. Sarah is an adorable girl with freckles and a gap-toothed grin, just as sweet as her fluffy new pet, Buttercup. The simple story talks about Buttercup growing up and their little adventures, including information on pet care in a natural and interesting way. Buttercup meets Sarah's friends, gets lost, and goes on picnics. Eventually, she gets big enough to have babies of her own (no male bunny is pictured or mentioned though) and she has seven babies who get into lots of trouble! Finally, it's just Sarah and Buttercup again, the way they like it.

The Little Lamb features Emmy, a pig-tailed little girl in sturdy jeans and sweater, who adopts an orphaned lamb, Timothy. He grows fast as she cares for him and introduces him to other animals and places on the farm. But eventually Timothy gets too big - and causes too much trouble - and goes back to the farm, where he happily joins in with the other half-grown lambs.

The Little Duck, Henry, is found by an unnamed boy as an egg by the pond. This book follows most closely the duck's life cycle from hatching to changing from a fluffy chick to a beautiful white duck. Eventually, he wants more than his little blue pool and finds his way back to the pond and a beautiful girl duck.

Verdict: There are plenty of farm animal books out there, but these photographs just seem to really strike a chord with parents and children alike. I recommend taking a look to see what's currently in print and trying out a few, be they paperback, prebound, or board books.

These are reprinted so constantly that I'm not going to list a specific ISBN. Most of them are still in print, either in paperback or prebound, or are soon to be republished as board books. They're the books that just keep going! Just search for Judy and Phoebe Dunn. The copies pictured are the latest paperback versions in print, but I personally own older paperbacks.

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