My Mother, the Bunny, and Me

Edith Kunhardt Davis. Shakespeare & Co., $20 (123p) ISBN 978-0-9975682-4-0
Davis, a children’s book author and daughter of Dorothy Kunhardt, who wrote the groundbreaking interactive children’s book Pat the Bunny in 1940, writes a quietly moving literary memoir. Narrating in a measured, matter-of-fact manner, Davis paints an idyllic portrait of her early childhood in rural New Jersey, where her free, creative household was colored by her mother’s sensibilities. She details the events of her mother’s life, including her associations with the Bank Street School, which developed a kinetic, child-centered approach to teaching and writing for children. Beneath Davis’s nostalgia are ribbons of melancholy that suggest a deeper rawness. Davis describes her feelings of shame surrounding having her mother write her papers for her, including a speech she delivered her senior year, for which she was censured: “That moment was to haunt me for 30 years.” Davis makes fleeting mention of memorable encounters with authors, including Carl Sandburg and Isak Dinesen, and offers casual insights into children’s publishing. Later reflections on the tensions in her parents’ marriage, as well as her own struggles with relationships, solitude, and alcoholism, broaden this snapshot of a family, an era, and a beloved children’s book. (BookLife)
Reviewed on: 04/10/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
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