I live in a hollow tree

December 28th, 2010 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Many, far too many, parents can riff on the heading — some of 100 or so words in I Am a Bunny. I had not thought of that Golden Book in a decade or so until rabbit prints in the snow brought back the sing-song text.

The author, Ole Risom, died at 80 in 2000 and the illustrator, Richard Scarry, in 1994 at 75. My wife and I knew their work well, individually and in the small-animal collaborations. In particular, I Am a Bunny, was a seemingly endless request from our three sons. We surely read it well over a thousand times…each.

Our eldest was the first read-to-me freak. Before he spoke sentences, he could “K?” us. That is when he lugged a picture book or early reader to one of us, he’d hold it toward us and say that with fairly bursting hope. It was a request neither of us could refuse our wee book lover. His anticipation was delightful. Invariably, we could say, “OK,” hence his question.

nicholasScarry’s books were always vaguely annoying visually though. Lord know, our son loved the books regardless of the lack of perspective and proportion of the illustrations. Garishly colored, heavily clothed animals were fine and right to a pre-reader.

The bunny in question, Nicholas, appears left in a partial capture of the cover. I claim fair use to give a visual hint.

Scarry was highly successful as an illustrator, as was Risom, with his many variations on small mammals with sparse, age-appropriate language. Moreover, this particular book is still in print and regularly reprinted. It first appeared in 1963. It was too late for my childhood, but someone gave it to us for our first. It was such a huge hit for our guys from about 1 to 3 that we knew that no matter how sick we were of “I am a bunny. My name is Nicholas. I live in a hollow tree.” we would much rather read it again than try to explain it’s disappearance.

By the bye, all 116 words of this insidious book appear here.

With time and distance from the relentless readings of this, we can smile and chuckle about Nicholas and his hyper-abbreviated trip through the four season. In fact, when I see bunny tracks in the snow of our yard, I flash on him curled up in his tree dreaming of spring.

Tags: harrumphharrumpherGolden BooksbunnyScarryRisom, reading


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2 Responses

  1. Ramona Gault says:

    I think I still have Rachel’s well-worn copy on a bookshelf. So hard to part with it, but if I met an interested child, I would hand it over.

  2. Robb says:

    I fondly remember (and still have) “Bunny Hopwell’s First Spring”. I found the illustrations wonderful as opposed to Scary’s slightly off stuff. Sara enjoyed many of Scary’s works for years. I also very much enjoyed ChipChip the Chipmunk’s story – beautiful line drawings. Thanks for the memories and for the sharing!

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