Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
Author & Illustrator: Mo Willems
Yeah. I just don’t get the hype. One of the Caldecott 2005 Honor recipients (that’s runner up to the 2005 Caldecott Medal), Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale (pronounced with a hard “K” sound as in “kill me,” has been all the buzz since it came out; and, the kids love it. They do; they really do. Is this a reason to keep it on Mr. Alex’s bookshelf? No.
Quick Rating: Do Not Buy
The storybook spans a short journey between a father and his daughter Trixie (named after Willem’s daughter) to the laundromat. At the laundromat, they engage in laundromat activities, accidently put Trixie’s stuffed toy (Knuffle Bunny — gesundheit) in the washer, and proceed to leave him there. Hilarity ensues. Trixie falls apart on the way home, blah blah blah, they find the toy.
The illustrations are composites of photographic images of Brooklyn, New York, with Willem’s illustrations superimposed. I’ve got to hand it to Willems. This is no small feat, and the effect is superb. The scale is deftly handled, the illustrations are fun and delightful. He is a wonderful artist. My problem, is not with the look of the book. The book looks great. As a writer, he’s a wonderful illustrator. The story is the problem.
No Space on My Bookshelf
Knuffle Bunny, aimed primarily at three-five year-olds, presents a situation where a Dad has an outing with his daughter, proceeds to lose her favorite toy, and doesn’t realize the toy is lost until that fact is pointed out by his wife. Trixie, a toddler who cannot yet communicate with words, has been trying desperately to communicate her displeasure at having lost her toy for blocks. Her Dad is presented as a clueless idiot who can’t understand his own child.
See where I’m having a problem with this book? There are scores of books with maternal heroes and strong mother/child relationships. I love them. They present strong parental models that need to be emulated. There are very few books, at least in the storybook genre and aimed specifically at this age group, that have strong father/child relationships. In this book, the Dad is a dope. And, can’t realize what’s wrong (even though the entire reading audience has figured it out), until his wife tells him. No. Just no.
Don’t get me wrong, I like funny books. I like the fact that the Dad is doing the laundry (although he can’t get it right). And, I know that parents are not perfect. But, I’m not prepared to have a 3-5 year old take a laugh at the expense of the male paternal figure.
I’ve read that this book came about because this actually happened to Mr. Willems and his publisher said something akin to “what a great story!” Yes. It’s a good story to tell at a birthday party, reminisce over at a family gathering, perhaps even tell at a wedding–all places where the story can be placed in context with other things the “Dad” has done. (Who knows? Maybe this particular Dad really is an idiot, or a superstar, or just plain average?) Is it a story worthy of a storybook to be read again and again? No. In the 3-5 age range I don’t see a need to portray any caregiver in a negative light in hopes of getting a laugh.
And that’s, why there is no room on my bookshelf. [End.]
If you want to purchase a copy of Knuffle Bunny, (hey, who knows? you may like it) and support my endeavors at the same time, you can click on one of the links below. No extra cost to you, and it will help me out! More books to read, more reviews to do!
Please, leave comments! I love a HEALTHY exchange of ideas. After all, critical thinking is essential to life.
If you’d like to preview the book, here’s read aloud:
More books for this Age Group can be found here.
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