The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes

A story as progressive as “The Country Bunny” is a perfect fit for PBS…

I always look to see if there’s any accompanying video content available whenever I make a book recommendation – an author interview, a book trailer, etc. – and I found a real gem while looking for video related to The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes this week.

Apparently, during the late ’70s and early ’80s, Nebraska Public Television and the Nebraska Department of Education developed a children’s show to promote reading called Once Upon a Time. The show revolved around a witch who loved stories so much that she locked Marion the Librarian in her tower until (to quote the theme song) “the witch is happy / And lets Marion go away.” So the show mostly involves Marion reading stories to kids each week from the witch’s tower- it’s like a mash-up of old locally-produced children’s shows (like Bozo the Clown and Mister Dress-Up) and the old PBS classic Reading Rainbow.

(There was an oddball Canadian kids’ show about reading – the weirdly sci-fi Read All About It – that I adored, even though its floating-head main villain, Duneedon, terrified me when I was younger.)

Once Upon a Time

This is how we got kids to read in the ’70s and ’80s…

Once Upon a Time is low-budget and a bit cheesy, but the 33 episodes are so earnest and charming that it’s hard not to feel a lot of affection for the show. I would’ve LOVED it as a kid. Plus Marion the Librarian read lots of really great books, including The Country Bunny, Make Way For Ducklings, Madeline’s Rescue, Horton Hatches The Egg, Stone Soup, and more. So, if you’re interested in checking out a nicely nostalgic public TV take on Du Bose Heyward’s The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, here you go:


Reading Rainbow

Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high...

I was a huge Reading Rainbow fan when I was a kid. Heck, there’s a whole generation of bookish children from the 1980s that, thanks to the influence of the best reading-related series that PBS ever produced, would very quickly form a cult behind LeVar Burton if the world ever found itself dropped into a Mad Max/Stephen King’s The Stand-esque dystopian wasteland. So, after I wrote my post on David Small’s Imogene’s Antlers yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Reading Rainbow actually did a whole episode themed around Imogene’s Antlers back in the 1980s.

It opens with LeVar visiting the Philadelphia Zoo to discuss the differences between animals and humans and, around the 6:40 mark, they start talking about Imogene’s Antlers directly and even get the hilarious Imogene Coca (Get it? Har, har) to do a reading of the book. Check out the video here:

Isn’t that such a great show? That video completely reminded me how wonderful Reading Rainbow was and I plan on spending tonight trying to locate some of the episodes on DVD to share with my daughter.

Oh, and, just FYI, if I ever met LeVar Burton in person, it would probably resemble something like this: