Bunny: Book vs. TV Show

T.V. Show

Bunny is introduced in the pilot movie, Little House on the Prairie, when Pat and Patty have a colt. When the Ingalls have to move out of Indian Territory they bring Bunny with them to Walnut Grove, Minnesota. We first see Bunny in the episode titled “Christmas at Plum Creek”. In this episode Laura wants to get Ma a brand new stove. She talks to Mr. Oleson and works out a deal. She would trade Bunny for the stove. At the end of the episode we find out that Pa was planning on purchasing the stove, however, he finds out Laura is trading Bunny for it. Ma doesn’t want Laura to give away her horse but Pa tells her it was Laura’s choice. It is hard for Laura to trade her horse, especially to Nellie Oleson, but she goes through with it because she loves Ma dearly.

The next time we see Bunny is in episode “Bunny”. Nellie Oleson mistreats Bunny and Laura is infuriated. One day, Nellie falls off Bunny and blames the horse for causing her paralysis. We know that Nellie is faking being paralyzed just to get attention from her mother and to hurt Laura. Mrs. Oleson, being the woman that she was, wanted Bunny to be killed. Laura is frightened and takes Bunny into hiding. A short while later Nellie’s lie is exposed and Mr. Oleson is furious. He returns Bunny to Laura so the two are reunited.

The episode “The Race” takes place right after “Bunny”. In this episode Laura enters Bunny into the Hero Township Race. Nellie is very jealous so Mrs. Oleson buys her a thoroughbred to go up against Bunny in the race. Laura thinks this is unfair but wants to prove Nellie wrong. The two girls race and Bunny ends up winning, much to Mrs. Olesons dismay. Instead of taking the silver cup for a prize, Laura trades it for new pairs of shoes for her and her siblings.

Bunny’s final appearance is in the episode titled “Journey in the Spring Part 2”. In this episode Laura’s grandfather, Lansford, is visiting the family. Laura is in the process of showing her grandfather how well she can ride Bunny when Bunny runs into a wire fence. Bunny is seriously injured and unable to heal from his wounds. They don’t want Bunny to suffer, so Pa is forced to put him down. . This devastates Laura. Unfortunately, Bunny’s story ends on a sad note in the T.V series.



Illustration of Pet and Bunny by Garth Williams

Picture source: Little House on the Prairie, pg.81

In the book series Bunny is introduced in “Little House on the Prairie”. One morning Laura goes outside and sees a “long-legged, long-eared, wobbly little colt” (Little House on the Prairie 81). Laura is eager to reach out to the colt but Pet, the colt’s mother, isn’t keen on that idea and snaps her teeth at Laura. Pa tells Laura and Mary that the colt is a mule because his ears are so long. Laura says he looks more like a jack rabbit. Because of this comparison, they thought it would be a good idea to name the colt Bunny.

The last appearance of Bunny in the book series takes place in “On the Banks of Plum Creek”. Pa trades Bunny’s parents, Pet and Patty, for Mr. Hanson’s land and trades Bunny for Mr. Hanson’s crop and oxen. Pa needed oxen because they were stronger and he needed them in order to plant his crop.

In the T.V. show Bunny stays with the Ingalls for years after they first arrive in Walnut Grove. In the book he is traded shortly after arriving there. We will never know what happened to Bunny or how he died. I prefer the book version because what happens to Bunny is an open-ended question, while in the T.V. Show he dies after getting injured.


2 comments on “Bunny: Book vs. TV Show

  1. Connie Ryle Neumann says:

    I agree with you – the trading of Bunny for oxen in OBPC was a much more realistic and traditional way of bartering and acquisition of necessities. The writer Laura was tender but not sappy sentimental, whereas the TV show played on heartstrings and exaggeration. I always loved her descriptions and understanding of animals in the Little House books, especially of horses and dogs – Laura’s two favorite animals. Thanks for a thoughtful comparison.

  2. Geri Ann Sefton says:

    It’s funny – in the first episode in which Bunny appeared, in which Laura traded Bunny to Mr. Oleson for Ma’s stove, Bunny was referred to as “he.” In all future episodes with Bunny, Bunny was referred to as “she!”

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