I was actually surprised by how good this little story is. I initially bought it while shopping for bunny-themed books as a secular Easter gift for my children, and when I came across this, illustrated by Garth Williams - one of my favorites - I thought, why not?
This is essentially the story of a loving mother who crafts the perfect gingerbread rabbit as a present for her daughter, a rabbit so perfect that he comes to life. As he lays there fearfully pondering his existence, and ultimately his fate - being that he's made of gingerbread and is meant to be a confectionery treat - he becomes engaged in conversation with the various kitchen utensils who've witnessed many a human feeding before. What ensues is a ridiculously funny conversation guaranteed to entertain any young child, and better yet - any adult who is reading this to a young child.
The rabbit, of course, succeeds in escaping his harrowing situation, and the mother follows in a wild chase through the forest, where they both meet with a squirrel, a fox, and eventually the story comes full-circle when the gingerbread rabbit meets up with the very rabbit that inspired his creation. The story ends well for all involved... with the possible exception of the wily old fox.
The illustrations, for me, have that nostalgic Garth Willliams feel to them. They authentically capture the suspense, humor, and sweetness of the story. The story itself was a wonderfully pleasant surprise. I will certainly seek out more of Randall Jarrell's books for my children, especially those illustrated by Maurice Sendak. I am surprised that Jarrell is not a better known children's author, but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book to anyone who comes across the listing for it. Of all the thousands (I'm not kidding - we're library hounds) of children's books I've read in the past few of years, this one would easily earn a spot in my top twenty-odd favorites.