I love to read with my kids every night, and for about two weeks now, this simple story has been their go-to favorite. This tale is the epitome of a good kid’s book, fit with every element necessary to ensure its survival as classic: great art, animals, repetition, and a strong moral about growing up.
The Art: Roger Bollen’s artwork is simple yet vivid in its color and detail. Even while forgoing backgrounds on a number of pages, Bollen’s illustrations create for the young reader a tangible world with livable spaces, where he can join P.J. Funnybunny as he roams from one locale to the next in search of the perfect species to become.
The Story: P.J. Funnybunny’s fed up with his life as a bunny, the carrots and large family and ginormous ears. He’d like to try to living as another species, but he finds that each and every one has its own drawbacks. I love that Sadler included several animals that are generally overlooked, like the Moose, possum, and skunk. And I love that each step of the way, the child can learn through repetition the concepts of advantages and disadvantages.
The Lesson: This book is not only an entertaining read that my four-year-old boy can recite nearly word-for-word, it’s also one that teaches an important lesson about accepting the life God’s given you, even with its shortcomings and drawbacks. Through repetition, children learn that everyone has their own problems, and that the “grass is always greener” mentality is a flawed one. If you’ve got big ears (or some other physical dislike, some disability, some unchangeable problem in life), you’ve got to learn to accept it, appreciate it, and move on. I’ve been able to have great discussions with my children on these topics, asking my boy why P.J. doesn’t like being a bunny and what he finally determines in the end, and have then been able to discuss some of the issues that he also struggles with at his own kindergarten.
An added benefit to this book for parents is that it’s a really fast book, 3-5 minutes at most. Children love hearing it, they love repeating it, and they love the ending as much as the beginning and middle. If you’ve never tried it, it’s worth sharing with you kids before bed tonight.