This blog is a continuation of a class assignment for the TWU course 5603, Literature for Children and Young Adults. Subsequent entries are for TWU course 5653, Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults. The new entries are for TWU course 5663, Poetry for Children and Young Adults.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Knuffle Bunny A Cautionary Tale

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
by Mo Willems

image retrieved from

Willems, Mo. 2004. KNUFFLE BUNNY. New York, NY: Hyperion Books for Children. ISBN 0786818700

Plot Summary
Trixie and her daddy take a trip to the Laundromat in this clever book. Inventive illustrations tell the story in pictures, as the reader strolls along with the family. Little Trixie delights in helping Daddy load the washing machine and deposit the coins to begin the load. The stroll back home comes with the realization for Trixie that something isn’t quite right… Knuffle Bunny, her beloved companion, is missing! Trixie launches an all-out effort to alert Daddy to the tragedy, but to no avail, considering her non-existent vocabulary. Trixie even went “boneless” in her attempt to convey her dismay to Daddy. Moments later an unhappy Daddy and Trixie return home, met at the door by Mommy, who wants to know where Knuffle Bunny is. Panic ensues as the family dashes back to the Laundromat to search for the errant rabbit. He is finally tracked down among the items in the washing machine. An ecstatic Trixie responds by uttering her first words, “Knuffle Bunny!” 

 Critical Analysis
Knuffle Bunny is an engaging, satisfying picture book on many levels. The text is simple and straightforward, chronicling each step of the trip Trixie and Daddy make to and from the Laundromat, and back again to track down the lost treasure, Knuffle Bunny. Parents and children alike can relate to the panic that ensues when a dear toy is missing.  The frantic search for Knuffle Bunny will surely stimulate inner chuckles, at the very least, in readers young and old.

The font selection for the text adds a dimension of reality to the story, as well. The font style looks more like the words were hand-printed than typeset. It is an endearing technique that increases the feeling of familiarity the reader will have with this tale. Font size varies, also, for dramatic effect, such as, “Trixie realized something.” The use of conversation bubbles scribbled in on the illustrations increases the intensity of Trixie’s desperate attempt to alert her daddy to the developing crisis. Readers of all ages will delight in the toddler jabber Trixie belts out.

Perhaps the most eye-catching, appealing aspect of this book is the unique artwork. Willems, a master illustrator who has been honored with the Caldecott award for his Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, mixes two unlikely mediums: photography and sketches. Willems photographed the journey through the neighborhood in his own neighborhood in Brooklyn as a backdrop for his work. He then inserted cartoon sketches of the people and objects key to this story. His dead-on ability to capture emotions on his characters’ faces is essential to the simplicity of the presentation. Even without the text, the pictures truly speak a thousand words and could easily tell the story on their own. Willem’s keen artistic eye serves him well, as he employs muted tones in the photographs, topped by colorful sketches. Knuffle Bunny is a fresh, welcome addition to any book collection.

Review Excerpts
From School Library Journal
Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 1–Trixie steps lively as she goes on an errand with her daddy. 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. After several tries (to find Knuffle Bunny,) dad finds the toy among the wet laundry and reclaims hero status. Yet, this is not simply a lost-and-found tale.  The concise, narrative becomes the perfect springboard for the pictures. They, in turn, augment the story's emotional acuity.  A seamless and supremely satisfying presentation of art and text.–Martha Topol, Traverse Area District Library, Traverse City, MI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist
*Starred Review* PreS-Gr. 1. 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. Willems chronicles this domestic drama with pitch-perfect text and illustrations that boldly depart from the spare formula of his previous books. 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. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

School Library Journal and Booklist reviews retrieved from

Child Magazine
In a smart blend of cartoons and sepia-toned photos, Caldecott Honor winner Willems spins a comical tale of trouble at the Laundromat. Knuffle Bunny, a beloved stuffed rabbit, accidentally gets tossed in with the wash. When little Trixie realizes what's happened to her bunny, the toddler gets creative in conveying her loss. (Ages 2 to 4)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2004

2005 Caldecott Honor Book

New York Times Bestseller

  • *    This book is a great conversation starter for adults and children to relive lost and found moments of their own.
  • *    The unique illustrations offer a chance for kids to be creative with their story telling. Challenge your youngster to retell the story while looking only at the pictures (cover the words if your child is reading independently.) Encourage vocabulary development by asking them to elaborate throughout.
  • *    Older students can study this book as an example of creative illustrating. Assign students to tell a story by combining two mediums, such as watercolor and torn paper or oil pastels and ink sketches. If appropriate technology is available, students can try their hand at photographing the setting and adding sketches or clipart to complete the scene. Then add text to complete the storytelling experience!
  • *              Knuffle Bunny books by Mo Willems:

Author, Illustrator, Knuffle Bunny Free: an Unexpected Diversion
Picture book, Balzer and Bray Books, Harper Collins Children
Author, Illustrator, Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity
Picture Book, Hyperion Books for Children
Author, Illustrator, Knuffle Bunny; a Cautionary Tale
Picture Book, Hyperion Books for Children

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