Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bunny Fun II: Snow Bunny Tales by Rosemary Wells

More than familiar with the chunky bunny stars of the Nick Jr. daily lineup, some parents aren't even aware that these popular characters had their beginning decades ago in a series of picture books created by Rosemary Wells.

I found this out last year in a comment about my review of a new Max and Ruby title in which the writer complained that the books were not as good as the television show because the characters didn't look right! I had to point out that Wells' drawings are the way Max and Ruby are supposed to look; the TV characters are copies by hired hands! Still, even if Rosemary Wells gets dissed a bit for not drawing her original creations right, the publication of a new story is a welcome event for her fans.

In Snow Bunny Tales (Max and Ruby), Wells gives us three stories starring the bunny brother and sister pair. In the first snow story, "Snowplow," bossy big sister Ruby insists that she and Max must surprise Grandma with a good deed:

"Let's shovel a path so Grandma can visit" said Ruby.

"Snowplow!" said Max.

"We don't have a snowplow, Max!" insisted Ruby.

Inside the shed Max hopped into his toy car. He tooted the horn.

"No, Max!" said Ruby. "We have to shovel the pathway for Grandma!"

Sensible Ruby insists on work before play, but of course Max continues to tool around in his car until Ruby suddenly gets his "drift," so to speak.

"Max," said Ruby, "we can make a snowplow.!"

Always thinking, Ruby seats herself comfortably on the hood of Max's car with her snow shovel extended in front of them, and with the ebullient Max providing the motive power, the two clear the way to Grandma's front door--to her surprise and delight.

"Look!" said Grandma. "It's a snowplow!"

In the second story, "Snow Day," Max yearns to play outside in the blowing snow, but Ruby insists that it's too cold and windy. "Today we'll play inside. It's called a Snow Day!" Ruby said. "OUTSIDE!" insisted Max.

The resourceful Ruby comes up with plenty of crafts and games to keep him busy, but Max makes a mess of them all, constantly pleading to go "outside." At last, the snow stops blowing and it's finally safe to venture forth. Then, of course, Max decides that he'd rather play "INSIDE!"

In the last tale, "Rocket Run," Max and Ruby head out with their sleds for the famous neighborhood downhill slide. Max can't wait.

"Faster!" said Max.

"No, Max. Only big bunnies go down Rocket Run. You can go down Bunny Hill. It's for little bunnies like you, Max."

If you're a fan of these two, you probably can guess where this one is going. Ruby and friend Louise are a bit intimidated by Rocket Run, but Max, operating on his own, is soon zipping down Rabbit Run with glee.

"Faster!" said Max.

Wells' insightful portrayal of the interplay between the bunny siblings is a big part of the fun as we watch the wintertime show. Her latest, Snow Bunny Tales (Max and Ruby), is a welcome addition to the extensive Max and Ruby library.

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