Partial Magic in Pat the Bunny

Ed Park at The Believer:

Something unsettling resides at the heart of the most beloved books for very young children—that is, the literature for illiterates. This note is a belated attempt to grapple with the horror of infinite regression as it manifests in certain of these works, and perhaps to sound the alarm for parent-caretaker voice-over providers who are too sleep-deprived to notice what’s actually going on.

In Margaret Wise Brown’s Little Fur Family (1946, illustrated by Garth Williams), a small, hirsute child of indeterminate species spends a day in the woods. This gentle narrative of forest exploration appears completely anodyne. But at one point, the Little Fur Child meets another hairy biped, a fraction of his size. If we were to follow this second child (call it the Littler Fur Child), would he come across a third one, even smaller? There would be a fourth, a fifth… Maybe that speck on the edge of your page is not a bit of grime but the furry creature’s 17th or 717th iteration. Illustration has no limit. You could show a picture of the inside of an atom if you wanted. Maybe the 10756th LFC is dancing, invisible, on the tip of your knuckle as you read this sentence.

more here.