Book Review: If You Were My Bunny

Alternate title: Singing Songs at Bedtime

My daughter began singing two weeks ago. She has mimicked song phrases for a while now, but at 27 months she is reciting well-known songs word-for-word while Mom and Dad sing them. Reciting is the best description of her activity because she is merely speaking the words at this point.

Accordingly, for the past week she has insisted on two bedtime books, which just happen to contain songs. And by songs I don’t mean an accompanying music CD. We sing words printed in the books.

Baseball Bob by William Joyce (see my previous review) contains the "Ballad of Dinosaur Bob" on its last page, sung to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.

[…] He’s Bob, the best old Bob,
the biggest Bob you’ll ever know.
He’s Mesozoic and heroic, and we love him so.

Book cover of If You Were My Bunny, depicting a mother and baby bunny.
But the focus of this review is If You Were My Bunny, a board book written by Kate McMullan and illustrated by David McPhail.

This is a story for mothers to cuddle up to read and sing to their children. On each couple of pages a different animal mother—a rabbit, bear, cat, duck or dog— talks to her baby about how she will make her baby feel safe and secure.

The first page says, "If you were my bunny and I were your mama, I’d pick you out from all the other bunnies and nestle you beside me. Then you’d close your little pink eyes and I’d sing you a bunny song."

The book repeatedly uses the word "mama," so dads will have adapt the text on-the-fly, but that’s OK because we’re used to circumventing maternal bias in children’s stories.

Each mother’s talk is accompanied by a custom lullaby for you to sing. An index to the book’s five lullabies can be found on the last page so that you know what popular tune is used.

For example, the mother duck’s lullaby is sung to the tune of Twinkle-Twinkle, Little Star:

Dearest duckling, close your eyes
Crickets chirp your lullabies.
Daddy duck is swimming near,
Turtles you need never fear.
Go to sleep, my downy one,
Moon is shining, day is done.

The other tunes to know are "Hush, Little Baby," "Sleep, Baby, Sleep," "Rock-a-Bye Baby," and "Lullaby and Good night."

I only have two criticisms. The name of the tunes should be written on the applicable pages so that you don’t have to keep checking the song key. Second, a human mother cuddles her baby at the end of the story. Dads can’t really work around that visual.

Now, unlike the Dinosaur Bob song, my daughter does not try to sing the animal lullabies. She seems to recognize they are for her to receive. She sits in her mom’s lap and is sung to while she and Dad listen. It’s a calm, easy way to wind down the day.

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