Reviews for Knuffle Bunny : A Cautionary Tale
Booklist Reviews 2004 September #2
/*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. 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. ((Reviewed September 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Spring
When Little Trixie (too young to "even speak words") leaves her beloved stuffed bunny at the Laundromat, she does her best to get Daddy to understand. Daddy is clueless until Mommy greets them at home with the obvious question: "Where's Knuffle Bunny?" The playful retro-style illustrations, in which cartoon characters are digitally incorporated into sepia-toned photos, complement the simple, satisfying story. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2004 #5
The cautionary part of this story by the creator of The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! (rev. 5/04) is more for parents than for preschoolers, but there's plenty here for kids to embrace. First, there are the playful illustrations, in which brightly colored human (and stuffed animal) cartoon characters, rendered in Willems's expressive retro style, are digitally incorporated into sepia-toned photographs of a quiet urban neighborhood. Then there's the simple, satisfying story. Little Trixie (too young to "even speak words") and her daddy walk to the Laundromat, put the laundry in a machine, and head home. On the way back, Trixie realizes with dismay what sharp-eyed lapsitters may have already noticed -- her beloved stuffed bunny has been left behind. The pace picks up here, mirroring Trixie's distress. Without words, she does the best she can to get Daddy to understand. "Trixie bawled. She went boneless. She did everything she could to show how unhappy she was," but Daddy, in a foul mood now, remains clueless until Trixie's mommy greets them at the door with the obvious question: "Where's Knuffle Bunny?" Trixie's pissed-off expression says it all. This everyday drama will immediately register with even pre-verbal listeners. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2004 August #1
Anguish begets language in this tale of a toddler's lost stuffie. Trixie and her daddy go on an errand to the local laundromat, an odyssey that takes the intrepid pair through the park and past the school and back-but "a block or so later . . . Trixie realized something." Her desperate attempts to communicate ("AGGLE FLAGGLE KLABBLE!") proving fruitless, Trixie resorts to time-honored toddler tactics: she bawls and goes boneless. Readers will deduce what Trixie's clueless daddy does not: her toy bunny has been left behind. Retro-style (think Rocky and Bullwinkle) cartoons depict the human players in the drama; sepia-tinted photographs of the artist's Brooklyn neighborhood, framed in pale green, provide the backdrops. Willems is a master of body language; Trixie's despair and her daddy's frazzlement as expressive as her joy ("KNUFFLE BUNNY!") and his triumph at the excavation of the errant bunny from the washing machine. The natural audience for this offering is a little older than its main character: they will easily identify with Trixie's grief and at the same time feel superior to her hapless parent-and rejoice wholeheartedly at the happy reunion. (Picture book. 2-5) Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 August #3
Any child who has ever had a favorite toy will identify with the toddler star of this tale. The plot is simple: Trixie loses bunny, finds bunny and then exuberantly says her first words-"Knuffle Bunny!!!" The fun comes from the details. In an innovative style that employs dappled black-and-white photographs of Brooklyn as backdrop to wickedly funny color cartoons, Willems (Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!) creates an entertaining story for parents and children alike. His economical storytelling and deft skill with line lend the book its distinctive charm, while the endpapers mitigate anxiety by clueing in readers concerning the solution to Trixie's problem. Willems renders the characters with Little Lulu-style pointed noses and their expressions are laugh-out-loud funny, from the hapless father's worried look as he and Trixie venture out to the Laundromat, to his roll-up-your-sleeves determination as he rescues the stuffed toy from the washing machine. But it's pre-verbal Trixie who steals the show. Her wide-eyed enthusiasm about the world around her is matched only by her desperate attempts to communicate. "Aggle flaggle klabble!" she says when she finds Knuffle Bunny missing, and her well-intentioned but clueless father translates, "That's right.... We're going home." An especially delicious scene finds the frustrated Trixie abandoning baby talk for action: "Well, she had no choice. Trixie bawled. She went boneless." The accompanying pictures comically corroborate the omniscient narrator's claim. Willems once again demonstrates his keen insight with a story both witty and wise. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2004 October
PreS-Gr 1-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.-Martha Topol, Traverse Area District Library, Traverse City, MI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.