REVIEW: Easter Bunny Comes To Newcastle/NSW/Western Australia/Queensland by Eric James

Published: 1st March 2016

Publisher: Lake Press

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback, picture book

RRP: $14.99

2.5/5 Stars

The littlest bunny has a BIG secret to hide – he’s the Easter Bunny! Follow his adventures as he hides eggs high and low – with a final stop at your house! Building on the spectacular success of Hometown World’s local Christmas ranges.

*Note: For the purpose of this review, I’m talking particularly about The Easter Bunny Comes To Newcastle, but I’ve also read The Easter Bunny Comes to Australia and the Easter Bunny Comes to NSW.

Given just how popular the children’s picture book ‘Santa Comes To … ‘ were, it was only a matter of time until Easter, and by extension the Easter Bunny, got the same treatment.  However unlike the Christmas edition, I found this Easter book to be somewhat lacking.

While the narrative itself is sweet and a great story for young children, I find the execution and presentation of the book lacking. The illustrations are cute and match the text, don’t get me wrong, but it’s the fact that this book, like the Santa version, is billed as a ‘local’ story that is disappointing. For unlike the Santa book, this one has no recognisable illustrations to match the location of the book, and what we’re left with is vague universal pictures of libraries with a text edit sign starting ‘Newcastle library’ and a basic and vague rolled up newspaper with the text ‘Newcastle News’ printed on it. I know I’m nitpicking here on what is otherwise a great book for children, but I feel like this book’s success and worth comes from the fact that it’s meant to be a local and recognisable story for a child to relate to the Easter Bunny and it’s subsequent adventures to their home town and area. It’s what the fun of the book is about. But when there are only a couple of vague images with interchangeable text and the text itself only alludes to a dozen or so suburbs across one double page spread

Charlestowm, Mount Hutton and Greenhills got treats. Then Jesmond, Cessnock and Cooks Hill complete. Merewether, Beresfield – the long list went on. Flop was delivering eggs until dawn.

you can’t help but feel a little let down. I mean the Santa/Christmas version at least included three or four double page illustrations that were unique to the location. The cover does feature some iconic points of interest, but its not replicated in the book sadly. I should also mention here that these books originated overseas in Europe, much like the Santa books, and were introduced and altered for the Australian market. The books are made to be sold easily across a variety of audiences and locations so I do understand (despite my disappointment and issues with this book) that production costs and formatting would have largely influenced all of the above decisions as to what is and isn’t included.

All that said, the narrative itself is sound and a rather sweet tale about Jack and Grace and their brand new adopted pet bunny Flop, who unbeknownst to them just happens to be the Easter Bunny! Flop is pictured as this adorable little bunny with flying googles and a red hat that are so cute, children are sure to fall hard and fast for this pint size interpretation of the Easter bunny.

Interestingly enough, The Easter Bunny Comes To … series breaks the fourth wall towards the end of the book by breaking story to address the reader personally.

Finally, Flop found his very last stop. He came to YOUR house with a bounce and a hop!

While this inclusion is sure to bring joy to children all around, I don’t think it quite makes up for the lack of ‘local engagement’ between each title. I mean realistically with the exception of a couple of lines of text and a few in-picture allusions, the book could be set anywhere at any time.

Once the story is done and dusted however, this book does keep on giving. For not only is the story timeless and entertaining for the most part, it also includes a game for children to play. Throughout the book, the illustrator has hidden 20 eggs for the children to find, and thus turns the book into a more interactive adventure where now they are on their very own Easter egg hunting mission. It’s kind of like an Easter Where’s Wally, without being overly obvious or compromising the story. It’s a cute idea.

So while I did find issues with this book, I still think it would appeal to young children who are desperately awaiting the chocolatey goodness that the Easter Bunny’s visit brings. I personally don’t think it’s as good as it’s predecessor Santa Comes To …, but it still has merit on it’s own.

The Easter Bunny Comes to.. books are selling FAST everywhere. So if you are looking to buy a copy of this book, you best hurry as most online retailers don’t have stock and those that do are only selling to educational departments and libraries. Book stores and department stores are selling fast, as I know BIG W for one is selling the book for $8 and it’s racing out the door.

Last side note – for some reason, this book almost doesn’t exist on the internet. It took me a good 20 minutes to find an online retailer who stocked it (and it was out of stock) and more time again to find someone who had limited stock and was thus only selling to schools and libraries. Even Lake Press Australia’s (publisher) website was difficult to source the books – read I couldn’t find them on there at all! To view a full list of the places in Australia that this book is loosely based on visit Wheelers – the only site I found them listed on for the later groups to buy.

 

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