Dear Bunny: On gratitude and butterflies

posted in: Blanca Gómez, Katie Cotton | 2

I thought I could begin this post by asking whether you want your kids to be happy.

But I figured that even as a rhetorical question, it seemed a little silly. Of course we want our kids to be happy. Perhaps a harder question to answer is “How do we help our kids to be happy?”

Everything I’ve seen on fostering happiness says one key component is nurturing gratitude: learning to see the good and great things around us, focussing on the good rather than that which makes us bitter.

dearbunnytitleDear Bunny… written by Katie Cotton and illustrated by Blanca Gómez is a very quiet, gentle way into having that discussion with our kids. Just what does make them happy and what are they grateful for?

A young child’s friend – a stuffed bunny – asks “What’s your favourite thing in the world?“. The girl likes so many things she decides to write them all down, and over the course of the pages that follow we see how even simple delights such as swinging high or splashing in the bath are what make her happy. What gives her the greatest joy, however, is that she has a good friend to share all these moments with – her beloved bunny.

There’s a gentleness and lightness of touch to both text and illustration which ensures this charming book never veers towards the saccharine. It’s a tender, reflective book, ideal for reading at bedtime, a sort of secular prayer. Moments of honesty and innocence inject a dash of humour, bringing the real child back into focus.

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Subdued earthy tones in Gómez’s illustrations add to a sense of warmth and peacefulness. An interesting mix of highly patterned detail with much plainer expanses creates a sense of space, perhaps just the sort that is needed to quietly contemplate what brings us joy.

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Sometimes it is hard to tell a friend how grateful we are for them – how much easier it is to tell a toy! But this lovely book makes it easier for us all to talk about good and positive things, and a book which spreads happiness is a very good book indeed.

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Inspired by the illustration on the book’s front cover the girls and I set about making butterflies. Although it is hard to see it in the image above, the butterflies have gold foil edges to their wings – a delightful detail in the book’s production – and so our butterflies too had to have a brush with gold. Here’s how we made them:

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I rather think that a bouquet of butterflies works just as well as a bunch of flowers!

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Now seeing as Dear Bunny… is all about our favourite things and what we’re grateful for, here are my seven favourite things in the world (at this precise moment in time):

  • The way my 10 year wears her happiness on her sleeves.
  • The way my 7 year old gets cross when I tell her it really IS time to leave for school and she HAS to put down the book she is reading RIGHT NOW!
  • Listening to my husband read a trilogy about the 100 years’ war to my kids at bed time and getting into long bilingual conversations with them about all the details.
  • Orkney. Orkney has my heart. Simply and utterly.
  • The taste of the first mouthful of coffee in the morning. I really love my coffee.
  • My daily bike ride along a river near where we live, watching the seasons change.
  • The knowledge that I have some apple crumble waiting for me for lunch….


  • What are your favourite things in the world right now?

    Whilst making our butterflies we listened to:

  • Grateful by Charity and the JAMband
  • Gratitude by Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips
  • I Think I’m a Bunny by Todd McHatton


  • Other activities which might work well alongside reading Dear Bunny… include:

  • Creating a gratitude paper chain. If you make paper chains this coming Christmas, why not write on each strip something you’re grateful for, or something which makes you happy. Then you can string happiness all around you!
  • Trying out some of the activities in this brilliant non-fiction book – Do Nice, Be Kind, Spread Happy by Bernadette Russell.
  • Once you’ve heard what makes your kids happy, actually going out and doing some of those activities! Stomping through puddles? Throwing piles of autumn leaves? Running as fast as you can down a hill? Go on… you’ll love it!


  • If you liked this post you might like these other posts by me:

  • Butterflies, mud and stick-on velcro – a review of Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian by Margarita Engle and Julie Paschkis
  • Creating a what-makes-me-happy lift the flap book
  • Watching the night sky with your kids
  • happinessfurtherlinks

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    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.

    2 Responses

    1. This looks like a lovely book – I must get a copy.

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