SOME BOOKS get under your skin in childhood and stay there. One, for me, was “The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes,’’ by DuBose Heyward with pictures by Marjorie Flack. It was about a girl bunny who wants to grow up to be one of the five great Easter Bunnies, even though she knows the job always goes to the fancy white rabbits or fast Jack Rabbits, who laugh at her. Her ambition fades; she grows up to have 21 children and a cheerful, efficient household. But on the day when a new Easter Bunny is to be chosen, she goes with her family to the Palace of Easter Eggs, where the wise old Grandfather Bunny - oh, never mind. It’s one of those books that sounds unbearably cutesy and cloying when you try to describe it, but that is actually wonderful: charming, heartfelt, beautifully illustrated, and quite moving.
I rediscovered the book when my children were young - they loved it too - but I never wondered about the writer until recently, when I saw DuBose Heyward’s name in a newspaper story about the new production of “Porgy and Bess’’ now running on Broadway; and I realized that “Porgy’’ and “The Country Bunny’’ were created by the same person. Who was he? How did he come to write these two stories, so different, yet each, in its own way, enduring?