At the laundromat, Trixie has a grand time helping her father, and the careful reader will notice poor Knuffle Bunny accidentally stuffed into the washing machine. It takes Trixie a while to notice her buddy is missing, but when she does, it is difficult for the preverbal child to communicate the situation to her father. The man doesn't have a clue. He becomes annoyed with what appears to be a senseless tantrum and all but drags the poor child home. It's only when Trixie's mom opens the door, coolly assesses the situation and asks, "Where's Knuffle Bunny?" that he realizes what has happened. The expression of dawning realization on his face is priceless -- as is the expression on Trixie's when they all run back, frantically retracing their steps as they try to recover poor lost Knuffle Bunny:
The juxtaposition of the understated text and the wonderfully expressive illustrations is brilliant. When I read books like these I am reminded of the old Calvin and Hobbes strip in which Calvin's dad is so sick of reading the same book over and over again to Calvin (I believe it was Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie - and why I can remember that but never the crucial item on a grocery list, I will never know). Books like these are intended for adults as well as children, and they are fun to read - even over and over again. Kids love the fun pictures, and the just-right number of words on each page, so the story moves quickly enough for their attention spans. They will feel proud of themselves when they are able to spot the missing bunny before anyone else. And we can all cheer enthusiastically with Trixie when her valiant Dad saves the day.
I have read this one at many children's storytimes, and honestly, the adults are just as riveted as the children. I love it! And if you like this one, check out Mo Willems' other books, such as Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. Very funny.
Awards: 2005 ALA Notable Book; BELA (Notable Book of the English Languag Arts); Caldecott Honor Book; Charlotte Zolotow Honor; Horn Book Fanfare
Mo Willems - Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale (Hyperion Books for Children, 2004)