SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the books below with your kids, watch for the plot unfolding below…
When my first born was around 18 months old, I stumbled upon “Knufflebunny, a cautionary tale” by Mo Willems. I was browsing the children’s books online catalog for the San Diego County library, and Willem’s book popped up on the search results. A lot faster than you can say Knufflebunny (and it’s pronounced K-nufflebunny, by the way, as Willem’s parents are both Dutch), I clicked to request the book and it arrived at the library a couple of weeks later. My first thought when I picked up the large-size book was, holy cow, my son’s going to shred that book to pieces! But I had to give it a try, at least for one reading.
Well, all I can say is that this book endured probably a hundred reading sessions at my home over the next few weeks. After about a dozen readings, my son knew the plot and remembered most of the lines. Thank you, Mo Willems for enabling my 18-month old son to pronounce “Aggle flaggle klabble”! Every parent will sympathize with Trixie’s dad when she first bawls, then goes boneless (don’t you love it when it happens?). And every mom will see herself in Trixie’s mom, who as she opens her front door instantly knows Knufflebunny is missing, while her dad was clueless about the disappearance the whole way home… Every child reading this story will identify with the feeling of losing his or her most precious possession and being reunited at the end.
An inspired Mo Willems went on to write “Knufflebunny Too: a case of mistaken identity“, where a Trixie will a full set of hair and a busy tongue finds her first best friend in pre-K through rabbit misidentity. I’ve had the pleasure to revisit both Knufflebunny books with my youngest, who seemed to have acquired a taste for reading quite later than his brother. Again, I think I can thank Mo Willems for igniting the joy of reading within him. Until then, he was a “speed reader”, meaning he would flip through picture books from beginning to end in about 30 seconds, and wouldn’t tolerate any story books. Around the age of two, I tried Knufflebunny and to my surprise, he sat still through the whole book, and asked “again” when we were done, something he had never requested before! Knufflebunny helped him slow down and smell the roses, of in this case, the laundry soap. Mo Willems, you are something else.
For more, visit Mo Willems’ website.
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