I wish I could recommend a truly living Australian Easter book. The fact is, it's difficult to find a truly living Easter book, full stop - in my opinion.
Jan Pienkowski's Easter is one of them - the beautiful King James words are illustrated with Pienkowski's dramatic black silhouettes against backgrounds of vibrant colours. It's out of print, and hard to get hold of, although Abe has two available in Oz on last glance. Fortunately, there's an online version on Jan Pienkowski's website.
Most Americans will know of The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Du Bose Heyward, with gorgeous illustrations by Marjorie Flack. It's pretty hard to get in Australia although I purchased our copy a few years ago from the wonderful specialist bookshop, The Little Bookroom in Melbourne, so anything's possible! To me, this is the BEST secular Easter book of all time:
One day a little country girl bunny with a brown skin and a little cotton-ball of a tail said, "Some day I shall grow up to be the Easter Bunny: you wait and see! "Then all of the big white bunnies who lived in fine houses, and the Jack Rabbits with long legs who can run fast, laughed at the little Cottontail and told her to go back to the country and eat a carrot. But she said, "Wait and see!"Of course, to we Aussies, Easter bunnies are rather politically incorrect. Bilbies are all the rage over here nowadays, aren't they? Now don't get me wrong - I'm passionate about saving the bilbies; it's just that I'm still waiting for a well written Easter bilby book to appear.
If you're absolutely desperate to get hold of an Easter Bilby book, The Smallest Bilby and the Easter Games should fit the bill. I've not been excited enough about it to want to purchase one though...
From the book's publisher:
When the rabbits decide to stop delivering Easter eggs, all the bush animals want to be the new Easter Bunny. After all, Easter wouldn't be the same without eggs! But how can the rabbits choose the best animal for the job? The lop-eared rabbit has an idea - and that's when the Easter games begin.
Australian author, Jeni Bright has kindly made her story, Burra Nimu, the Easter Bilby available online for free download. It's probably worth a read to your kids at some stage, if only to highlight the plight of this endangered species before it is too late. Bindee’s original family are already extinct. They were Lesser Bilbies.
Since this has become more of a Save the Bilby post than an Easter book one, there are a couple of other books worth mentioning:
I haven't yet had an opportunity to view wonderful Australian author, Colin Thiele's bilby books, Miss Bilby and Billy Bilby's Barbecue, but the former, in particular looks like it might be worth a look. Written in rhyming verse, it appears to be a factual story about the bilby and its existence in the new and cruel environment of modern Australia.
I'm going to stop now. I can see that I could write several posts of bilby book reviews.
I am going to leave you, though, with an absolutely fantastic, definitely living book for the youngies called Binty the Bandicoot. (A bilby is a type of bandicoot, remember...one with long rabbit ears!)
Written by Eve Pownall, this is a delighful story about a very naughty little bandicoot, who never did what his mummy told him to.
"Keep close together, children, and don't go near the billabong," Mrs. Bandicoot always said. "Yes, Mummy; no, Mummy," said all the little bandicoots - all but one, and that was always Binty. Binty was sure to be twitching his nose, wiggling his whiskers, frisking his tail, and NEVER listening to anything.It's not hard to guess that Binty did end up in the billabong - that's what happens to naughty little children who don't listen to their Mummy, isn't it? Of course there are consequences for Binty's bad behaviour too - the old books had much better morals...
In our home, The Country Bunny and Binty are our Easter reads...every Easter. We have the Pienkowski and Wildsmith books too, but we love our two animal stories - it wouldn't be Easter without them!