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Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Backup Bunny, written by Abigail Rayner and illustrated by Greg Stones. North/South. 2018. $23.95 ages 4 and up

"That was when I saw him.
He was slumped over the
edge of the tree house.

I decided not to mention it.
This was my chance.

I couldn't go back to the
sock drawer yet."

I am eager to share this new book with my daughter and her daughters later this week. It could be our story - with a few tweaks. When they visited last year at this time, the little one had just had her first birthday. She was mobile and needed constant supervision as she liked to explore, and loved the bathroom. She carried her stuffed bunny, Lady Grey, at all times. She loved, and continues to love her. Whenever the bathroom door was left open, she made a beeline for it, obviously aware that Lady Grey loved water and baths. The first time she was dunked in the toilet, it sent us into a tailspin. Who knows why? The water was clean and the toilet spotless. We wrung Lady out, put her in the dryer - all the while hoping that she would come out as loved as when she went in. Mom decided we needed a backup, rushed to get an exact replica at a local bookstore, and came home content that we had a solution should there be further incidents. The next time it happened, we took care of the drenched one and handed the new one over. It was promptly rejected with  full force - tossed aside as totally unacceptable. Best laid plans ...

The narrator for this backup bunny story is the backup bunny himself. Fluffy lives in a sock drawer, ready to save the day should Bunny ever go missing. Fluffy has happy dreams about what it will be like when he must spring into action. Finally, Bunny is lost and Max is inconsolable. It's what Fluffy has spent long hours imagining. At first, Max seems content.

"Max squeezed me. He pressed me to his cheek.
He petted the tips of my ears.
For a second, I was truly happy.

And then ... SPLAT!"

Max does accept Fluffy as an acceptable substitute for Bunny. They eventually begin to do things together. All end with Fluffy in some untenable position that requires time on the clothesline. There are moments of hope, but bedtime comes and Bunny is called for, not Fluffy. Feeling great guilt for knowing where Bunny is and not saying anything, Fluffy finally spills the beans. Bunny is found and Fluffy returns to the sock drawer for good. Or, does he? 

Fun, fun, fun! Greg Stones gives Fluffy a warm countenance. Feelings are fully on display from start to finish. Humor is clear, and appreciated as Fluffy must endure less that perfect treatment.

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