Thanks to the painters, I’ve been sorting through what seems like centuries of STUFF, throwing away ruthlessly and forcing various members of my family to do the same. My daughter has a trick guaranteed to drive me to despair, one she’s been using with great effectiveness for most of her twelve years. It involves choosing a book that meant everything to me as a child, holding it out at arms length, and proclaiming some version of, “I hate this book, do I have to keep it?” When pressed, she’ll tell me it was too scary, too boring, too old-fashioned. Always too-something. A person could cry.
I almost offered to read The Country Bunny to her tonight, but she’s so happy sleeping on the sofa while her room is being painted (no pretence of books required, she can watch TV until the very second the lights go off) that I didn’t dare risk the rejection.
And so I retire with teary nostalgia and my old copy of the story of the brave country bunny who challenges the long-legged jack rabbits for the job of Easter bunny — my very first feminist book. Our heroine goes on to bring up a vast multitude of babies as a single mother, all the while aiming for, and finally achieving her dream of a difficult career as an egg-deliverer. My mother had fantastic taste in picture books, and I don’t remember telling her they were too boring. Though now that I think about it, my sisters and I were very horrible to poor mom about her favourite book — Little Women. I have memories of calling her Marmeeeeee for weeks.
Unfortunately, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes is one of those books that never really made it to England, but it’s available on Amazon, and if you’ve missed having it for Easter this year, buy it early for next.
Speaking of eggs, I’m settling down for Easter with Natasha Walter’s Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism. Maybe the answer for the next generation is to makes sure they’ve had their feminist literature drummed in early. Though how we’re supposed to manage that when they’re too busy blow-drying their hair and putting on make-up, I don’t know.