Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion by Mo Willems; Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins Children's Books (September 2010); ISBN 9780061929571; 52 pages
Book Source: F&G copy from publisher
Knuffle Bunny's adventures continue, as a school-aged Trixie and her family travel by plane to Holland to visit "Oma" and "Opa." Trixie brings her beloved bunny along on the trip, but at some point in the hustle and bustle of the plane ride, Knuffle Bunny goes missing, again. Trixie doesn't need to tell her dad this time -- her eyes say it all. She desperately misses her beloved stuffed animal. Not even a brand-new, Funny-Bunny-Wunny-Doll Extreme can make her feel better. But, then she has a wonderful dream, a dream about Knuffle Bunny meeting children all over the world. Equipped with a new understanding that comes with growing older, she feels a little better and is able to enjoy the rest of her trip. And, Knuffle Bunny eventually ends up right Knuffle Bunny belongs, cuddled by a pair loving, little hands. After all, Knuffle ("Ka-nuffle") is Dutch for hug (or cuddle).
Bring on the tears! This is a story of letting go and growing older, of thoughtful happy endings and new beginnings. Knuffle Bunny Free drew mixed reactions in our home. My kindergarten-aged daughter said she really liked the story. She enjoyed looking at all the wonderful, superimposed illustrations and reading about Knuffle Bunny's worldwide adventure. But, when we discussed the plot and the ending, she replied, grasping her beloved blankie tightly, "That's OK in a book, but not for me." I tend to agree. My own tattered, well-loved blankie is packed away somewhere safe in my parents' home, serving as a lasting reminder of my childhood.
However, for Trixie and Knuffle Bunny and for Mo Willems and the real Trixie, it is a fitting conclusion. And, once again, Mo Willems outdid himself with the illustrations. The illustrations take the reader along right on the journey, right to the airport and on the plane, all the way to Holland, a carnival, windmill and more. The signature digital collage style is perfect for Knuffle Bunny's worldwide travels. The pigeon makes his obligatory appearance, or three and a half appearances to be exact, along with a few other Willems' favorites. My kids do love searching for that pigeon! The love note to Trixie in the end, filled with Mo Willem's thoughts and hopes for his own daughter, really touches the heart. I couldn't read it without crying. Yes, Knuffle Bunny Free is definitely a fitting conclusion in many ways.
Related links and activities:
"Mo Willems, on 'Knuffle Bunny Free'" - Publisher's Weekly
Knuffle Bunny Free Event Kit [pdf]
Knuffle Bunny Free World Tour Schedule and Passport [pdf]
Classroom Activities for Knuffle Bunny [pdf]
Knuffle Bunny - Teacher's Guide [pdf]
Knuffle Bunny Too Event Kit [pdf]
Knuffle Bunny Sewing Pattern from emilie handmade
Enter to win a life-sized Knuffle Bunny at http://www.gomo.net/.
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