IF YOU'RE LOOKING for a sweet bunny tale to share with your child this Easter, Chattanooga resident Judy Neighbors has recently published one that will have children and their parents oohing and ahhing.
"Learning with BunnBunn - Hopping Through Months, Seasons and Holidays," $10, is a delightful book that features Neighbors' personal photographs of her late pet rabbit, BunnBunn. The reader travels from month to month as the furry little critter basks in the sunshine at the beach, plays in the snow and goes trick-or-treating.
BunnBunn was a perfect model, Neighbors said.
"She would sit there and let me put her in different poses. The more attention she got, the more she liked it. I would get in her face and kiss her chin and she'd turn toward me and kiss me. It was like she was always telling me how much she loved me."
Neighbors said when she initially saw the rabbit, it was love at first sight.
"I had walked into Pet Care Warehouse and picked her up. She fit into the palm of my hand. We both fell in love immediately."
Neighbors litter trained the rabbit.
"I let her run around the house like a cat or dog. I think it's awful when people cage rabbits all the time. They like to hop around and be free. We would take naps together, and if it was cold, she'd get under the blanket. She was really a snuggle bunny."
BunnBunn died three years ago when she was 6 years old.
"The photos in the book were shot over the course of her lifetime," Neighbors said, noting that taking photos of the rabbit always drew attention.
A photograph of BunnBunn wearing a bikini on the beach was taken at Chester Frost Park.
"I dug a hole in the sand and made it the shape of her back," Neighbors said. "I laid her in there and she didn't care at all. My mother, Betty Richardson, was my assistant that day. As we were posing the rabbit and taking photos, we overheard a man saying, 'I have seen it all.' "
Neighbors and her husband, Jerry, now live with a rescued dog and two cats given to them by a co-worker.
"Having a rabbit in our home at this time wouldn't be a good situation," she said. "But having a rabbit was wonderful. BunnBunn is the very best pet I have ever had. I loved her so much."
Neighbors, who works at Fletcher Bright Co., will have a book signing at Sports Barn on Market Street on April 4 from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. .
Though Neighbors has only good things to say about BunnBunn, she emphasizes the responsibility required to take care of a rabbit.
"Because owning a bunny rabbit takes considerable responsibility, time, and patience, a stuffed animal rabbit may be a better choice, especially for children under the age of 10," she notes in the book's foreword.
"Every year, before Easter, people go out and see the cute bunnies for sale," she said. "Some of the people who buy them will keep them for about a year and then put them in a cage outside. Domestic rabbits can't take extreme temperatures - high or low. It gets very hot here in the summer and very cold in the winter. Also, some people let their rabbits go free. A tame rabbit does not know what to do. When I took BunnBunn outside with me, she'd never hop away. If I had let her out by herself, she would have died a cruel death because a dog or cat would have gotten her. She wouldn't have known to run away."
A free audio book download is included with the book, Neighbors said. In fact, Neighbors' boss, Fletcher Bright of Fletcher Bright and the Dismembered Tennesseans, performs the Irish music for the "March" page.
Neighbors said the book, published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises, is sold at Creative Discovery Museum or, after May 3, online at www.tatepublishing.com and amazon.com.