Playing by the book

Reviews of kids' books and the crazy, fun stuff they inspire us to do

Remarkable rabbits & a giveaway

Posted on | November 2, 2012 | 66 Comments

Picture Book Month‘s theme of the day today is Rabbits and I couldn’t have two more different books to share with you.

Do your kids ever go through phases of saying “rude” words? I think most parents will have experienced their darling little children delighting in transgressing by exclaiming words they know to be “naughty”. My otherwise angelic children certainly love the thrill that comes from saying such powerful words as “bum”, “fart” and (most outrageously of all) “winkie”.

Poo Bum by Stephanie Blake, hot off the press only yesterday, captures this experience perfectly. A young rabbit appears to be able to say nothing other than “Poo Bum”, whatever his family ask him. Time to get up? Poo Bum. Lunch time? Poo Bum. Bath time? Poo Bum. You know how this goes.

With a Belloc-esque turn in the middle of the book (we all know naughty children will end up being eaten, if not by a lion, then by some other predator at some point), it is actually the the young bunny who has the last laugh. Children love books which reflect and validate their experience of the world and this one is sure to make them giggle (but it definitely won’t clean up their language).

The illustrations in Poo Bum are very simple, but brilliant and bold. The use of strong, saturated colour pairs perfectly with the slightly ballsy text. The cartoony characters have a naivety about them which young children will recognise as something from their own world, just like the story.

Given the theme today for Picture Book Month, the rabbity-ness of the book got me thinking. Animals in picture books have always been used as a proxy for exploring human emotions and experience and had Poo Bum had been drawn with people rather than animals, I doubt it would have been as funny and clever as it turns out to be with rabbits.

Toilet humour in children’s books isn’t for everyone, but this is a wickedly funny book which captures a parent/child experience in all its absurdity. Not one I feel I could read out in class, but I know my kids can’t get enough of me reading it at home.

Tom Crean’s Rabbit: A True Story from Scott’s Last Voyage written by Meredith Hooper and illustrated by Bert Kitchen is an equally remarkable book, but an entire universe away from Poo Bum.

Tom Crean’s Rabbit presents a small vignette from Captain Scott’s last journey to Antarctica, in 1910. On board was sailor Tom Crean who had brought with him a rabbit. As Crean looks for a cosy nook on board the Terra Nova for his rabbit to snuggle down in, we are shown around this amazing ship. We are given glimpses of life on board as the crew ready the ship for a Christmas celebration, which is made even more special by the birth of 17 bunnies on Christmas Day itself.

Based on diary entries written by the crew of the Terra Nova, this book is part non-fiction, part picture book. The story such as it is, is quite slight, but it does allow for an interesting introduction to life on board a ship exploring one of the most remote and dangerous parts of the world over 100 years ago.

It’s fascinating to see just how much animal life there was on board the ship (in addition to rabbits, there’s a cat, a parrot, a team of dogs and a stable full of ponies!) and Kitchen’s illustrations capture the awe inspiring vistas with ice floes, whales and cold, cold air. The final pages of the book include brief author’s notes on the facts behind the story, but I feel the book would have been enriched by a little more commentary on the story and images, not least, why was there are rabbit on board at all? Was it simply a flight of fancy by Crean? Was the rabbit destined for the pot?

Tom Crean’s Rabbit is a Christmas story with a difference, obviously useful if your kids are interested in exploration but also good for reading and remembering those who are far from home at Christmas time.


My kids would love to have some rabbits as pets, but they couldn’t persuade me to get a real life bunny. Instead I showed them how to make their own bunny families, using beads, felt and a glue gun. With beads of three different sizes, and small pieces of felt cut out in the shape of ears and feet, M learned to carefully squeeze a little bit of glue onto the beads to stick them and the felt together, making sure the “head” bead was positioned so that the threading holes acted as eyes.

We got the idea for this activity here. The use of the glue gun and fairly precise nature of the gluing meant that this was an activity my eldest could do under supervision, but it wasn’t something my 4 year old could do. Despite it not be so young-child-friendly the glue gun was great to use as the beads stuck firmly very quickly (which wouldn’t have happened with PVA).

Once our colony of rabbits were ready they needed some downs to play in so we plundered moss growing on the pavement outside our street and created little landscapes in some gardening trays.

Rabbit music we love includes:

  • John the Rabbit sung by Elizabeth Mitchell
  • Mister Rabbit sung by Caspar Babypants
  • Rabbit Run by Steve Weeks (some lovely banjo music on this track, even if it’s not actually about a rabbit…)

  • Activities to go with these books include:

  • Recycling some plastic bags to make a bunny, using this tutorial on Free Kids Crafts.
  • Making this rather fun rabbit headband from Fun Family Crafts.
  • Cuddling a soft toy bunny you and the kids have made yourself – TipNut has a round up of patterns and tutorials, my favourite one being this one.

  • I’m delighted to say you could win either of these books. All you need to do is leave me a comment on this post.

    **The giveaway is now closed. It was won by Comment 43: Mary Preston**

    Disclosure: I received a free copies of the books I’ve reviewed today from their publishers. I was under no obligation to review the books and I received no money for this post.

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    66 Responses to “Remarkable rabbits & a giveaway”

    1. Polly
      November 2nd, 2012 @ 7:56 am

      First in the queue!(although were we to win there might be a bit of family disagreement about which book to ask for…)
      Polly recently posted..Happy Halloween with Tamara Small

    2. Carmen Haselup
      November 2nd, 2012 @ 8:19 am

      I love the little rabbits! I am going to try a glue-gun-free variation with my daughter, maybe threading the beads together and using sticky pads to connect the felt. Thanks for the wonderful idea.

    3. Katrina R
      November 2nd, 2012 @ 8:27 am

      Yes please, throw my name in the hat! :)

    4. Melissa @ Honey Bee Books
      November 2nd, 2012 @ 8:46 am

      Both books sound wonderful but who wouldn’t love a book called Poo Bum? I absolutely LOVE the bead bunnies. My daughter actually asked to go to the ‘bunny shop’ today over lunch??
      Melissa @ Honey Bee Books recently posted..Project #8: Exploring France through picture books

    5. sandhya
      November 2nd, 2012 @ 8:46 am

      Oh, wow. Would love to win one of these books. Needless to say, after it has been loved thoroughly, it will be passed on to our school library like many other books.
      sandhya recently posted..Trips, books, friends, anniversaries and much else

    6. sandhya
      November 2nd, 2012 @ 8:52 am

      Have just linked to this post at my blog.
      sandhya recently posted..Trips, books, friends, anniversaries and much else

    7. Annabel deuchar
      November 2nd, 2012 @ 9:35 am

      As always, some fab books and brilliant craft ideas. I love your bead bunnies! As for poo bum, I always feel so conflicted about books that encourage ‘naughty’ words. They totally appeal to my sense of humour, and I know they will to my kids, especially if I can’t help tittering. But then I’m left with kids who will be shouting poo bum all the time, and given the lungs on my son and how readily he likes to exercise them, I don’t think I can inflict that on our neighbours or indeed whole local community!!
      Annabel deuchar recently posted..Botox Babes – would you go plastic?

    8. Rosalind
      November 2nd, 2012 @ 9:47 am

      No contest for us – Poo Bum it is!!!!
      Rosalind recently posted..‘Rabbityness’, by Jo Empson – a post for Picture Book Month

    9. Rosalind
      November 2nd, 2012 @ 9:48 am

      Have tweeted about it as well :-)
      Rosalind recently posted..‘Rabbityness’, by Jo Empson – a post for Picture Book Month

    10. Gary Masskin
      November 2nd, 2012 @ 11:02 am

      These look great. Poo Bum really caught my attention. I’m enjoying Picture Book Month. Tonight’s books included “Hurry Up, Birthday!”, “Hop, Little Hare!” and “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”. I know that hare’s are technically different to rabbits but it was useful to discuss the differences with my daughter. And looking at the year that Peter Rabbit was first published came as a bit of a shock.

    11. Elli
      November 2nd, 2012 @ 11:40 am

      Poo Bum, pretty please! That rabbit IS my son!
      Elli recently posted..Pumpkin Song

    12. Kirsty
      November 2nd, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

      Yes please, have tweeted too x

    13. Parita
      November 2nd, 2012 @ 1:28 pm

      I just know that the words Poo Bum are going to be echoing in my mind all day after reading this!

    14. Iona Burchell
      November 2nd, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

      In for a penny etc. My daughter believes she is a great exploeprer, so Tom Crean’s Rabbit looks ideal.
      Iona Burchell recently posted..Food Glorious Food

    15. Marjorie (PaperTigers)
      November 2nd, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

      Tom Crean’s Rabbit has been a great favourite in our family – it was one of the stories my Dad, who spent a year in the Antarctic, used to read to my boys. And your bead rabbits are gorgeous – so effective!
      Marjorie (PaperTigers) recently posted..PaperTigers 10th Anniversary: Top 10 YA/Crossover Books with a Religious Theme, by Rukhsana Khan

    16. Dianne de Las Casas
      November 2nd, 2012 @ 6:18 pm

      Thank you so much for such a lovely post. That rabbit craft is adorable! Some bunny loves you! :)

      Dianne de Las Casas
      Founder of Picture Book Month
      Dianne de Las Casas recently posted..Why Picture Books are Important by Tom Lichtenheld

    17. Hannah Bartram
      November 2nd, 2012 @ 7:07 pm

      Would love to win Tom Crean’s Rabbit.

    18. Hannah Bartram
      November 2nd, 2012 @ 7:10 pm

      Have tweeted @MummyBee81

    19. Rebecca Miller
      November 2nd, 2012 @ 9:36 pm

      My girls are at a stage were everything is about toilet humour,so i know they would love Poo bum:)

    20. rhythm
      November 2nd, 2012 @ 10:01 pm

      I am excited to see this book about the rabbit travelling with Mr Scott to Antarctica! I love stories about animals going on fantastic adventures, and the Mom Person is obsessive over anything to do with Antarctic exploration. So this one will be going on our book list. Thanks!

    21. Kellie Faggle McIntyre
      November 3rd, 2012 @ 9:10 am

      shared on g+ as Kellie Faggle Mcintyre

    22. Kellie Faggle McIntyre
      November 3rd, 2012 @ 9:13 am

      Tweeted as @kelliefaggle

    23. Kellie Faggle McIntyre
      November 3rd, 2012 @ 9:13 am

      My son LOVES rabbits! He has one he carries continually and even takes to bed. I have to wash him when Samuel is asleep!

    24. Rachel
      November 3rd, 2012 @ 10:00 am

      Poo Bum! What a laugh. My nearly 3 year old daughter is obsessed with the word ‘poo’ at the moment. It wouldn’t take long for her to read the story by herself!! :)

    25. Catherine
      November 3rd, 2012 @ 10:52 am

      I am very interested in the Meredith Hooper book. We have read some great picture books about Antarctica while doing a unit on it, and this one looks great too.

    26. Anne-Marie
      November 3rd, 2012 @ 12:57 pm

      Those bead rabbits are fantastic :-) If we’re lucky, Poo Bum please!
      Anne-Marie recently posted..Blogging About Children

    27. Anne-Marie
      November 3rd, 2012 @ 12:59 pm


    28. Anne-Marie
      November 3rd, 2012 @ 1:00 pm

      Shared on FB

    29. Lauren
      November 3rd, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

      Love the concept of the Poo Bum book….intrigued to read it myself, never mind to children!

      November 4th, 2012 @ 9:11 am

      fab giveaway, thank-you

      November 4th, 2012 @ 9:12 am


      November 4th, 2012 @ 9:12 am

      shared on google+

    33. esther james
      November 4th, 2012 @ 12:32 pm

      What a great idea for a book . I know my daughter would love this
      esther james recently posted..Giveaway # 4 Limited Edition Friends prize pack

    34. esther james
      November 4th, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

      tweeted @esthermate
      esther james recently posted..Giveaway # 4 Limited Edition Friends prize pack

    35. emma Cella
      November 4th, 2012 @ 2:03 pm
    36. emma Cella
      November 4th, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

      fab giveaway, thank-you

    37. emma Cella
      November 4th, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

      shared on google+

    38. emma Cella
      November 4th, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

      shared on facebook

    39. Erica Price
      November 4th, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

      What lovely looking books.
      Erica Price recently posted..Saturday is Caption Day: World’s Most Dangerous Animal

    40. Erica Price
      November 4th, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

      Tweeted @ericahughes
      Erica Price recently posted..The Gallery: Frightful

    41. Erica Price
      November 4th, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

      Erica Price recently posted..Giant Draughts Set Review

    42. choxbox
      November 4th, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

      Your brain is an ideas factory Zoe!

    43. Mary Preston
      November 4th, 2012 @ 10:27 pm

      There really are some amazing picture books around. The colony of bunnies is very cute & clever.

    44. Rebecca
      November 5th, 2012 @ 3:25 am

      The books look great but really love the crafts and music that go with them

    45. MartaG
      November 5th, 2012 @ 6:45 am

      Hi! We would love to read Tom Crean’s Rabbit, it sounds fabulous! Thank you!
      MartaG recently posted..Halloween y sorteo de libro

    46. janet
      November 5th, 2012 @ 8:03 am

      I would love to win one of those books!
      janet recently posted..Green Eggs and Ham – Unterrichtsmaterial und Arbeitsblätter

    47. janet
      November 5th, 2012 @ 8:05 am

      shared on my blog
      janet recently posted..Remarkable rabbits & a giveaway

    48. Kat
      November 5th, 2012 @ 8:29 am

      As much as I would love to read Tom Creans Rabbit, I’m sure the boys will out vote me on Poo Bum every day of the week!
      Kat recently posted..Silent Sunday

    49. Kat
      November 5th, 2012 @ 8:32 am

      Have tweeted a link for you too :o) x
      Kat recently posted..Silent Sunday

    50. Catherine
      November 5th, 2012 @ 9:00 am

      We would love to read Tom Crean’s rabbit – Christmas Day bunnies sounds like a great Christmas present :o) Thanks for this amazing giveaway.

    51. Catherine
      November 5th, 2012 @ 9:01 am

      Retweeted on November 2nd.

    52. Ashleigh
      November 5th, 2012 @ 8:04 pm

      they look great, please include me!

    53. Ashleigh
      November 5th, 2012 @ 8:05 pm

      i have shared on google+ as ashleigh allan

    54. Ashleigh
      November 5th, 2012 @ 8:05 pm

      i have tweeted as @ashlallan

    55. Jany
      November 5th, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

      Thank you for this special giveaway, I love when we are playing with children by a book
      We’ll love Poo Bum by Stephanie Blake, If I win

    56. caroline kelly
      November 5th, 2012 @ 9:40 pm

      Oh Poo Bum!!!

    57. caroline kelly
      November 5th, 2012 @ 9:41 pm

      tweeted @ckelly2304

    58. Isil
      November 5th, 2012 @ 11:17 pm

      Defne is obsessed with bunnies recently.She would love these bunies and books.
      Isil recently posted..The Children’s Bookshelf {Discovering Richard Scarry}

    59. corinne
      November 6th, 2012 @ 10:43 pm

      hello, count us in! i know my kids would be delighted to get their hands on one of these books. cheers :)

    60. Rachel
      November 7th, 2012 @ 3:04 am

      Posted this giveaway on my blog.

    61. Rachel
      November 7th, 2012 @ 3:05 am

      I shared this on facebook.

    62. Lilinha Espindula
      November 7th, 2012 @ 10:34 pm

      The rabbit looks a lot of fun! :) x
      Lilinha Espindula recently posted..The White Company Special Offer #twcvip

    63. Lilinha Espindula
      November 7th, 2012 @ 10:34 pm

      I’ve Tweeted as @LilinhaAngel :) x
      Lilinha Espindula recently posted..The White Company Special Offer #twcvip

    64. Anna Aird
      November 8th, 2012 @ 8:46 pm

      Am chuckling away to myself as I know a little boy for whom ‘Poo Bum’ would be the perfect gift!!

    65. Anna Aird
      November 8th, 2012 @ 8:49 pm
    66. Elizabeth Williams
      November 9th, 2012 @ 3:27 am

      Would love to win, my little man is rabbit obsessed @rootsandwings1

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