Friday, February 7, 2014

Day 21 -- Knuffle Bunny: A Wonderful Book

If you haven't caught the picture book series Knuffle Bunny, by Mo Willems, you should.  Especially if you ever had a special stuffed animal, blanket or crack pipe that was your childhood crutch.  In this picture book trilogy, we see a follow a little girl named Trixie and her stuffed bunny through various stages of life, and get to relive some of our own fond memories in the process.

For those who haven't read the series, here is the quick rundown:

  • Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale: Baby Trixie loses her Knuffle Bunny in one of the washers at the laundromat.  Daddy has to figure out that it's lost by deciphering a babbling tantrum.  He finally does (because Mommy tells him) and they frantically tear the place apart to find it, and Trixie says her first words.  They are not "Thank you."
  • Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity: Pre-K Trixie brings Knuffle Bunny to school, and promptly gets in a fight with Sonja who also brought her own Knuffle Bunny.  The teacher takes both of them away -- like you do -- and then gives them back at the end of the day.  But they were switched by mistake!  It wasn't until 2:00 AM when Trixie notices the problem and makes Daddy get out of bed, call Sonja's parents (who actually call them), and rush through New York City to Central Park to swap bunnies with Sonja.  The feel good moment happens when nobody gets mugged.
  • Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion: Little girl Trixie goes to Holland with her parents to see her Oma and Opa.  She mistakenly leaves Knuffle Bunny on the plane and realizes it after the plane is en route to for China.  The trip does not go well until Trixie dreams of a mystical stuffed rabbit that makes all the boys and girls in the world happy.  Then when she leaves to fly back to the America, she finds Knuffle Bunny in the seat pocket!  She ends up giving it to a crying baby sitting behind her because she realizes she's old enough, and a 12 hour flight with a crying baby would ultimately suck.
These three books are a godsend for more then a few reasons.  First, these seem to be books that we can read throughout her childhood.  The pictures are fantastic and combine photography with hand-drawn illustrations.  The story is funny without being ridiculous, and the complexity of the story grows as Trixie ages.  The Princess has every line memorized, so now we "read" the stories together, as I'm the narrator and Daddy and she plays Trixie.

But more than that, these books bring back fond memories of my own childhood that I don't get to relive that much.   I had a stuffed dog, aptly named Doggy, that I carried around with me until I reached first grade.  Anytime that I was frightened or sad or whatever, I would put him in a Hulk hug that would kill a mortal dog. And since I had an older sister who liked to "help" me do everything, I was frightened pretty much all the time.  Poor Doggy had his neck sewn up so much he couldn't turn his head.

Most children's books get harder to stomach the more times you read them.  I have even devised a subtle speed-up mode so that we're busting through pages in five minutes or less.  Some books are less painful and tend to have at least some lasting power.  But few can actually be as moving for you as they are for your kids, all on a different level.

I would say that the Knuffle Bunny series is the Toy Story 3 of picture books.  Anyone who seen Toy Story 3 knows exactly what I'm talking about.  Enough said.

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