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The Journey of Bushky Bushybottom ~ Hopalong Jack and the Blue Bunnies Review by Kate Kessler

Jeri Landers
IllustratorJeri Landers
91 Joppa Mt. Rd.
Rutledge, Tn. 37861

The Journey of Bushky Bushybottom and Hopalong Jack and the Blue Bunnies are two very beautiful and creative children's books. Written and illustrated by Jeri Landers, these oversized hardback books are a feast for your children's eyes.

The Journey of Bushky Bushybottom is the story of a young squirrel brother and his two sisters. Young Bushky is separated from his sisters during a storm "when a massive gust of wind lifted him up and carried him whirling and twirling through the sky, hither and yon!" He lands with a thud a goodly distance from his home and meets an owl. Bushky quickly realizes that to the owl, he might be considered dinner, so hides himself under a stump. Along Busky's journey to find his home he meets many animals: a possum family, a frog, a turtle, the twin raccoons (who love to rhyme), and Mrs. Webbytoes the duck, along with her children, who tell him to find Mr. Red Rooster. He introduces himself to the creature he thinks is Mr. Red Rooster, but Sir Percival the fox is most decidedly not Mr. Red Rooster! He is interested in Bushky because he might be a savory meal! Will Bushky make it home to his family? (Yes!)

In Hopalong Jack and the Blue Bunnies we find ourselves in Hopalong Holllow with a very dissatisfied bunny named Hopalong Jack. "Ever since Hopalong Jack was just a wee baby bun, his earliest memories were of brothers, sisters and cousins as far as the eye could see." Jack is surrounded by bunnies and longs to be different from the other bunnies. He tries all sorts of amusing ways of setting himself apart from the crowd, but the other bunnies like his changes so much they make them too! He even dyes himself with blueberry juice and of course, all the other bunnies decide to do it too--the "Blue Bunnies" of the title of course. Upon hearing some wonderful music made by other woodland creatures, Hopalong finds himself dancing in his own unique manner. On his way back to the Hollow, he is joined by other little bunnies that have picked up his rhythm, but have added to it. They discover they can all make creative melodies and that they enjoy it very much! Hopalong Jack comes to realize "...that being special comes from inside your little bunny self and that all bunnies are special in their own way." I like to add for my children that God is the giver of all good gifts and that it is He that makes us unique.

The lush scenery Jeri Landers offers our children in these full-color books is really beautiful to behold. The subtle color palette of Hopalong Jack is more subdued yet fills the pages with natural browns, greens, golds, and blues with highlights of brighter colors. She showcases the Scherenschnitte craft on the facing pages of this book. "Scherenschnitte (pronounced Sharon-sh-net, if German or Sharon-sh-net-ah if Swiss) is the German word for the art of scissors snipping or paper cutting." It is beautiful! Her website gives you instructions on how to do some of it with your children. This story was cute and enjoyable, but my favorite was The Journey of Bushky Bushybottom.

The Journey of Bushky Bushybottom has a brighter palette with the same beautiful base colors of varied greens, golds, browns, and blues, but she adds brighter colors more often with reds, pinks, yellows, and a lovely sky blue. (There are sample pages on her website.) It has a very wonderful Beatrix Potter feel to it yet it is a story all its own with vibrant creative characters and imaginative names. While the animals are depicted in a highly enjoyable anthropomorphic manner with beautiful clothing and clever conversation, they are realistically drawn. It is quite easy to tell that the villain is a fox and the central figure, a young squirrel. I read this one to a group of five young children, aged ten to four, and every one of them was trying to get closer to view the lushly covered pages. They were all silent as I read the delightful story. It was a wonderful read-aloud--especially with inventive voices--and the book offered wonderful vocabulary. She does not dumb down her stories, yet the children knew exactly what was going on. This book also comes with a CD of the story that they wanted to listen to before bed that same night! It is awfully refreshing to see such care and attention to detail and fine craftsmanship in books for children. These are definitely keepers!

Product review by Kate Kessler, Product Reviews Manager, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2009