Sunday, October 10, 2010

Knuffle Bunny Free

If you haven't indulged in the work of Mo Willems, your time has come. With the recent release of Knuffle Bunny Free, Willems closes what began as a cautionary tale with an unexpected diversion. Told with sincerity, sentimentality, and style, Knuffle Bunny Free is a touching tale of letting go and sharing happiness.

Knuffle Bunny is a trilogy about a little girl, Trixie, and her closest inanimate friend, a stuffed bunny with floppy ears. In the first story, Knuffle Bunny, Trixie misplaces her companion and like all toddlers, is unable to articulate her loss. Written and illustrated by Willems, this story was a runaway success that continues to feed our fascination with a musical rendition, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical. It debuted to Kennedy Center audiences in May 2010, and the traveling tour kicked off in Prince George's County, Maryland and continues through late spring 2011. If you can get tickets, it's sure to tickle your fancy. And even better, my sister-in-law, Paige Hernandez-Funn,  is the choreographer!

In Knuffle Bunny, Too, Trixie is off to her first day of school with Knuffle Bunny and to her surprise, her classmate also has a very similar companion, and what ensues is tender chaos and warm acceptance.  And finally, in book three we meet an even older Trixie in Knuffle Bunny Free, and with a tinge of sadness witness the release of her life-long companion.

These stories are perfect for the children in our lives that grow and mature before our very eyes, leaving behind the symbols of their development. Sometimes these symbols move from the bed to the toy chest to the garage and ultimately in the arms of other children. And sometimes they stay behind, relics of the past, trapped on canopy beds or in wooden toy chests, waiting and hoping that their owners return and include them in their new lives. Mo Willems has captured the spirit of growing children and the adults that watch, participate, and steer the bittersweet development of children. I hope you enjoy the Knuffle Bunny series and share it with the great children in your world.

Always, Athena

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