“JUDY CAN PAT THE BUNNY. NOW YOU PAT THE BUNNY”: 1940 FIRST EDITION OF PAT THE BUNNY, A PERENNIAL CHILDREN’S FAVORITE, AN EXCEPTIONAL COPY
KUNHARDT, Dorothy. Pat the Bunny. [New York]: (Simon & Schuster), (1940). Small quarto, original pictorial stiff paper boards, original box. Housed in a custom clamshell box.
First edition, first issue, of the first and most beloved “touch and feel” book for young children, an exceptional copy in the publisher’s original pictorial box.
“Pat the Bunny came out, took off and goes on, a novelty that children never tire of… Here is a fat box-shaped book for babies and very small youngsters, pink as tooth-paste, with a trick at every turn. Paul and Judy can pat the bunny: now ‘you’ pat the bunny, and here he is, pure cotton wool. ‘You’ can play peekaboo, look in a mirror, feel Daddy’s scratchy face, read Judy’s book, and actually put your finger through Mummy’s ring. Midway of these thrills, if a tiny finger is poked at a red ball it really squeaks” (Bader, 238). Kunhardt, whose first children’s book appeared in 1934, wrote Pat the Bunny for her three-year-old daughter Edith. As an adult, Edith returned the favor by authoring Pat the Cat (1984), Pat the Puppy (1991), and Pat the Pony (1997). Still in print, Pat the Bunny “remains a bestseller—second only in all-time sales to [Beatrix Potter’s] The Tale of Peter Rabbit” (Geraldine Baum, Los Angeles Times). Philip B. Kunhardt Jr., the author’s son and later managing editor of Life Magazine, noted in a New York Times article in 1990 that “Golden Press [the current publisher] still goes on cutting and gluing and stamping out and hand-finishing a quarter of a million new copies of Pat each year, annually using up acres of sandpaper beard, six football fields of peekaboo cloth and enough metalized polyester to mirror over a small lake.” First issue, with the squeaking ball; because the ball’s squeaker frequently failed (as here), it was later replaced by perfumed flowers for the reader to smell.
Interior fine; squeaking ball no longer squeaks. Original paper boards exceptionally lovely. Light soiling to publisher’s box, lacking three (of four) interior flaps and with a small area of expert coloring to top flap. A bright, beautiful copy, most scarce in original box and in such excellent condition.