While not as tightly plotted or as funny as Rankin and Bass Productions’ previous Animagic stop-motion animation Easter television special (Here Comes Peter Cottontail), their 1977 offering The Easter Bunny Is Comin’ to Town is still full of appealing visuals, interesting characters, and good lessons.
The Easter Bunny Is Comin’ to Town – Plot
The mailman S.D. Kluger from the Rankin and Bass holiday special Santa Claus’ Is Coming to Town returns, this time to explain the origin of certain Easter traditions, such as:
- Why do we color eggs at Easter?
- Where did the Easter Bunny come from and why does he hide eggs?
- Who made the first chocolate bunny and the first stuffed toy…and why?
- Why does everyone get new clothes at Easter?
- Why are Easter flowers called Lillies?
Two communities live on either side of Big Rock Mountain: Kidville is a happy place filled with child orphans, while Town is a dreary place full of laws forbidding people to do anything fun. One Easter morning, the Kidville orphans adopt a baby bunny that they name Sunny.
When Sunny grows up and tries to take some decorated eggs out into the world to trade for things Kidville needs, he finds himself in a contest of wills with the Dowager Duchess Lilly Longtooth, who is ruling Town for her 7-year-old nephew King Bruce the Frail. Easter tradition after Easter tradition is invented as Sunny attempts to evade Gadzooks (the grumpy lonely bear who lives on Big Rock Mountain) and outsmart Lilly Longtooth’s laws against anything fun.
Songs include “The Easter Bunny is Comin’ to Town,” “You Think Nobody Loves You But They Do,” and “In the Big Rock Candy Mountain.” Character voices viewers may recognize include Fred Astaire as Mr. Kluger and Skip Hinnant (a cast member of the original The Electric Company and Schroeder in the original off-Broadway production of the musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown) as Sunny.
The Easter Bunny Is Comin’ to Town – TV Easter Special Review for Parents
This children’s animated Easter holiday special contains no real violence or bad language, and only the youngest of children might be scared by Gadzooks. This Easter holiday classic teaches important lessons about helping others who might be lonely or need assistance to be courageous and about liking yourself and standing up for things that are important.
Parents who are not religious may be put off by the reference to everyone in Kidville worshipping the Lord in their own way. Also, many children today may not know what a hobo is and be confused by Hallelujah H. Jones and the hobo gandy dancers.
DVD Extra Features
The Easter Bunny Is Comin’ to Town Deluxe Edition DVD released by Warner Home Video offers as a bonus feature a gallery of (non-Easter-themed) stop-motion animation shorts.
Related Fun Easter Activities for Kids
- Bake a cake shaped like a mountain. Then have children cover the cake with icing and use small cookies, peppermints, other pieces of candy and fun Easter treats to decorate the cake to look like how they picture Big Rock Candy Mountain. Kids can also pipe icing to make railroad tracks across their candy mountains.
- Provide kids with craft supplies like pieces of fabric, felt, and colored paper and have them design and make 2-D versions of fancy Easter outfits. Children can also draw a paper doll version of Gadzooks to dress up.
- Visit the Jelly Belly Web site with children. Watch the Virtual Factory Tour and discuss how jelly beans are made in the real world.
- Encourage children to think up and write illustrated versions of their own fantasy explanations for Easter traditions, including questions not addressed in this Easter holiday special.
- Give children hard-boiled Easter eggs, plastic Easter eggs, or foam Easter eggs and help them participate in traditional Easter activities for kids, such as an Easter egg toss or an Easter egg roll.
Related Easter-Themed Book
After hearing the explanations for Easter traditions offered in this animated Easter television special, children may then enjoy reading another set of explanations. Share the picture book The Story of the Easter Bunny by Katherine Tegen [HarperCollinsPublishers, 2005] to read another explanation for where the Easter Bunny comes from and who makes all the chocolate eggs and colored Easter eggs that appear in children’s Easter baskets each year.
Viewers of all ages will enjoy this delightful Easter holiday classic, and it would make a fine addition to any home video library. Lovers of Rankin/Bass Animagic tv specials will also enjoy a review of Here Comes Peter Cottontail.