Willems, Mo. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale. Ill. by Mo Willems. New York: Hyperion Books, 2004. ISBN 0786818700
2. PLOT SUMMARY
Trixie, a precocious toddler goes on an excited errand to the Laundromat, where her dad even lets her put money into the big machines for their clothes. However, on the way back she realizes her beloved stuffed bunny, Knuffle Bunny, is missing! She gets upset but can’t explain to daddy what’s wrong. When they get home, mommy realizes the problem and they rush back to look for poor Knuffle Bunny. Daddy finally finds him among the wet clothes and returns him to Trixie, who is so grateful she says her first words: “Knuffle Bunny.”
3. CRITICAL ANALYSIS
Little readers will relate to the joys of running big kid errands with their parents and being entrusted with putting money into the slots of a machine. They’ll also share the anxiety of being unable to communicate a problem, or even losing a favorite toy. The simple text of Mo Willem’s book coupled with the unique backdrop of his pages will entrance young listeners and keep early readers entertained as well.
By pairing muted tone and black and white photographs with silly doodle sketched colorful characters, the readers eye will dance from page to page with Trixie as she tries to communicate in her own language. The simple city blocks will provide a familiar setting to many readers and the fun speech bubbles will help them read along.
4. REVIEW EXCERPT(S)
2005 CALDECOTT MEDAL
Top 100 Picture Books #7 by School Library Journal
From SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL – “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.”
From BOOKLIST – “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.”
Gather other Caldecott Medal books about precocious children to read such as:
• Falconer, Ian. OLIVIA. ISBN 0689829531
• Rylant, Cynthia. THE RELATIVES CAME. ISBN 0689717385
Gather other Mo Willems' books about Trixie and Knuffle Bunny to read such as:
• KNUFFLE BUNNY TOO: A CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY. ISBN 1423102991
• KNUFFLE BUNNY FREE: AN UNEXPECTED DIVERSION. ISBN 9780061929571
Both of these sets of books can be used to talk to small children and even older children about growing up and family.