Module 6: Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale is a children’s book by Mo Willems. It was published in 2004 and won the Caldecott Honor in 2005.

SUMMARY

Trixie is a little girl who lives in Brooklyn with her parents and her stuffed animal, Knuffle Bunny. One day, Trixie’s father takes her and Knuffle Bunny to the laundromat. On their way back a cross Brooklyn, Trixie suddenly loses her mind and goes “boneless” and screams and cries, much to her father’s confusion. When they get back to the apartment, Trixie’s mother immediately identifies the problem — Knuffle Bunny is missing.

The family treks back through Brooklyn to the laundromat where they rescue Knuffle Bunny from the washing machine and Trixie exclaims, “KNUFFLE BUNNY!!!!” as the first words she ever spoke.

IMPRESSIONS

The illustrations for this story are cartoon drawings done on top of photographs of Brooklyn, which was very interesting and fun to look at. The story of a toddler who lose its toy wasn’t particularly compelling to me, but then again, I’m not the target audience. I also found it a little ridiculous that the father is so clueless that he doesn’t realize that Trixie is suddenly without a toy that she’s never far from. Are men truly that clueless when it comes to their kids?

On a more personal note, the idea of having to drag a screaming child across town is more proof that I do not want kids and need to renew my birth control prescription.

PROFESSIONAL REVIEWS

Trixie steps lively as she goes on an errand with her daddy, down the block, through the park, past the school, to the Laundromat. For the toddler, loading and putting money into the machine invoke wide-eyed pleasure. But, on the return home, she realizes something. Readers will know immediately that her stuffed bunny has been left behind but try as she might, (in hilarious gibberish), she cannot get her father to understand her problem. Despite his plea of “please don’t get fussy,” she gives it her all, bawling and going “boneless.” They both arrive home unhappy. Mom immediately sees that “Knuffle Bunny” is missing and so it’s back to the Laundromat they go. After several tries, dad finds the toy among the wet laundry and reclaims hero status. Yet, this is not simply a lost-and-found tale. The toddler exuberantly exclaims, “Knuffle Bunny!!!” “And those were the first words Trixie ever said.” The concise, deftly told narrative becomes the perfect springboard for the pictures. They, in turn, augment the story’s emotional acuity. Printed on olive-green backdrops, the illustrations are a combination of muted, sepia-toned photographs upon which bright cartoon drawings of people have been superimposed. Personalities are artfully created so that both parents and children will recognize themselves within these pages. A seamless and supremely satisfying presentation of art and text.
School Library Journal

This comic gem proves that Caldecott Medal-winner Willems, the Dr. Spock and Robin Williams of the lap-sit crowd, has just as clear a bead on pre-verbal children as on silver-tongued preschoolers. On a father-daughter trip to the Laundromat, before toddler Trixie “could even speak words,” Daddy distractedly tosses her favorite stuffed bunny into the wash. Unfortunately, Trixie’s desperate cries (“aggle flaggle klabble”) come across as meaningless baby talk, so she pitches a fit until perceptive Mommy and abashed Daddy sprint back to retrieve the toy. Willems chronicles this domestic drama with pitch-perfect text and illustrations that boldly depart from the spare formula of his previous books. Sepia-tone photographs of a Brooklyn neighborhood provide the backdrops for his hand-drawn artwork, intensifying the humor of the gleefully stylized characters-especially Trixie herself, who effectively registers all the universal signs of toddler distress, from the first quavery grimace to the uncooperative, “boneless” stage to the googly-eyed, gape-mouthed crisis point. Even children who can already talk a blue streak will come away satisfied that their own strong emotions have been mirrored and legitimized, and readers of all ages will recognize the agonizing frustration of a little girl who knows far more than she can articulate.
Booklist

LIBRARY USES

Definitely for a children’s story time. This can be used in a “bring your favorite stuffed animal” day or in a craft to make their own Knuffle Bunnies.

REFERENCES

Mattson, J. (2004). Knuffle bunny. Booklist, 101(2), 241. Retrieved from http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/book-reviews/14623526/knuffle-bunny-book

Topol, M. (2004, October 04). Book of the week: Knuffle bunny. Retrieved from School Library Journal website: http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA457411.html?industryid=47054&q=knuffle+bunny

Willems, M. (2004). Knuffle bunny: A cautionary tale. New York: Hyperion.

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