"Bunny in the Middle"

Birth order can’t be controlled — we’re stuck with it for life. And sometimes middle children can feel lost in the shuffle, as evidenced by the cute cottontail in “Bunny in the Middle,” by Anika A. Denise.

This charmer with a message is the Baby Buzz Pick for October, the newest in an ongoing list of suggested books for children birth to age 5. A review of each month’s Baby Buzz Pick appears in the second weekend issue of The Missourian.

The books are chosen by Chris Stuckenschneider, Missourian book editor, and Maria Brady-Smith, former parent educator with the Washington School District. The following review was written by Stuckenschneider:

Using three adorable sibling rabbits, the husband and wife team of Anika A. Denise, author, and Christopher Denise, illustrator, highlight the ups and downs of an in-between bunny.

Gorgeous illustrations with a classic feel of picture books from yesteryear depict the busy bunnies inside and outside their woodland home. Accompanied by spare, expressive text, the Denises detail situations that will help children understand being in the middle has advantages and disadvantages.

An older bunny is shown going over sums with middle bunny, then middle bunny, in turn, assists little bunny with a tall swing it can’t reach. We see the bunnies making a cake — middle bunny won’t give the cookbook to older bunny, but haltingly surrenders the chef’s hat to the wailing younger bunny. 

“When you’re in the middle . . . you know when to hold on, and when to let go . . . in sticky situations,” accompanies the scenario.

Being in the middle offers the opportunity to lead, to follow and sometimes to “go your own way.” But there’s angst with being in the middle too — “You get hand-me-down everything. And you never get your own room.”

After presenting the pluses and minuses of “in-between,” the book ends on a wise, sincere note that makes the middle a spot with strong, lasting positivity, “But when you’re in the middle . . . you are loved all around.” What could be better than that? 

Ages 3-6.