While perusing the isles of Borders last Saturday night – I know, party animal, right? – I came across a new printing of The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, one of my favorite books from my childhood. It follows the little country bunny, who is a lady, and grows up dreaming to join the all male, aristocratic Easter bunny force. These snobby bunnies attempt to crush her dream, telling her she will never make it, but she never loses hope.

She then grows up, has 21 or so children (no husband is specifically mentioned, but then she is rabbit…) and a household to run. By and By, she catches the eye of Grandfather bunny, who decides to pick her to be an Easter bunny. She is given the hardest task of all, to deliver a beautiful egg to a sick child on top of a hill. She nearly fails, but is brave and courageous, and is thus made the most important Easter bunny of all (above the boys) and Grandfather gives her a little pair of golden shoes, which allow her to fly above the mountains up to the child. When she returns home she finds that her children are in bed, all the chores are done, and everything is lovely.

Moral of the story? If your heart and mind are strong and compassionate and you are willing to work hard, all your dreams will come true, no matter who you are or where you came from. It seems this touching little book, with beautiful illustrations, is more than just a bedtime story, in fact one Amazon reader calls it “the most powerful book I have ever read.” It’s very simple, but apparently very effective.

But back to my story; as I looked at the book in the store, I was immediately struck by the only blurb on the back of the book;

“It is difficult to believe that this very modern feminist tale was originally written in 1939.”

What exactly are the publishers trying to push here? Apparently, parents aren’t just looking to read any old book to the kids, it has to have a good ‘message.’ But wait, this isn’t new! Remember the fable, the parable, the cautionary tales that kept people in line? However there is an important change here, because the book doesn’t just emphasize the moral message its selling, but the idea of female power and agency. And let me add that this book was written not only in 1939, but by a man. Fantastic.

Publishers are constantly printing new editions of old books, sometimes bringing out aspects of the book which are currently ‘in vogue.’ In this case though, this one little blurb really shows how our culture is finally becoming comfortable with accurately labeling these kinds of narratives, which I love.

And I have to wonder; the first line of the book points out that although we only hear about ONE Easter bunny, there are really many more. And while we always think the bunny is a boy, here that is also not true! Maybe this will lead younger readers to think about other traditionally male characters and wonder if our depiction is correct, if society is always giving us the complete picture – because they almost never are.