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Have a Carrot: Oedipal Theory and Symbolism in Margaret Wise Brown's Bunny Trilogy

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The Runaway Bunny and Goodnight Moon have been popular for more than half a century, and although the third text of the trilogy, My World, is not well known, the three texts are clearly connected. The publisher describes My World as a companion to Goodnight Moon that allows readers to "revisit that beloved world of a little bunny and his family," and Brown and Clement Hurd, the illustrator, referred to these books as their "classic series," but no one has ever treated them as a trilogy or noted the pervasive use of Freudian symbols or the Oedipal structure of these books. The Runaway Bunny explores the little bunny's fantasy of the omnipotent mother. Goodnight Moon encourages a child to defy her, and My World, the only text in which the father appears, explores the bunny-boy's competitive approach to the father he simultaneously resents, admires and loves, while the mother rabbit slips from prominence in his life and into the shadows.

A valuable resource for parents, librarians, professors and students interested in picture books, Have a Carrot is well researched with extensive annotations and a useful bibliography. The combination of historical fact from Brown's life, interdisciplinary perspectives on children's literature, and detailed analysis of the way the text and illustrations work together to convey multiple layers of meaning offers a useful framework for students preparing papers in the fields of children's literature, psychology, and pop culture, and invaluable insights for teachers, parents and librarians evaluating picture books they might want to purchase.

Reviews

Absolutely fascinatingRan for my copies of the “bunny books” and pored over them as I read it.  Whether one accepts Freud's version of the world or not, one thing's for sure - no one who reads this book will ever look at Goodnight Moon in the same old way again.”

Simone Kaplan, Children’s Book Editor.

 

Extremely well written and intelligently argued ... The pictorial art is analyzed in fascinating detail. …

 J.D. Stahl, Professor, Hollins University

 

Brilliant on many levels, very well researched!”

Anne Marie Turner, MFA Vermont College.

 

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