It’s Fathers’ Day week, so we have several daddy-themed books on the list – some of them sweet and endearing, and some of them inserted for a dose of (humorous) reality. Falling into the second category today was “Knuffle Bunny” by Mo Willems, a strangely familiar and very funny story. Subtitled “A Cautionary Tale”, it also serves as a reminder for mommies who have forgotten that daddies so often just don’t “get it”.
One day Trixie goes on to the laundromat with her daddy and her stuffed bunny (“Knuffle Bunny”). She “helps” him put the clothes in the washing machine, after dragging them all over the floor and wearing pants on her head, because…of course! Does daddy lose his cool? No! He is the model of patience. After Trixie inserts the coin into the loaded washer, daddy and Trixie stroll out the door, hand-in-hand with daddy smiling and whistling (perhaps enjoying a beautiful day and quietly congratulating himself on being a wonderful father). As Trixie and her daddy are heading home, however, she realizes something is wrong. Unfortunately, Trixie can’t talk yet, and so all she is able to say is “Aggle flaggle klabble” All her daddy says in response is “That’s right, we’re going home.” She tries, and fails, with increasing vigor, to tell her daddy what is wrong, until finally she works herself into a sobbing fit. By the time they get home, daddy has shed any pretense of patience and is angry, put-upon, and tired of all the unexplained sobbing. He opens the door, and Trixie’s mommy greets him with “where’s Knuffle Bunny?” Oops.
So the family runs to the laundromat, and daddy looks and looks and looks and looks, flinging laundry this way and that. When he eventually finds the lost toy, Trixie hugs it and says “Knuffle Bunny!”…her first (understandable) words ever.
This story really resonated with me…as a father, I do often find myself stymied by some “unexplainable” tantrum, and just when I am at my righteously angry wit’s end, mommy asks me a single question which inspires a self-inflicted slap to the forehead (“when was the last time the girls ate?”, “did you try (insert name of toy or game here)?”, etc.). If I only had a brain. File under “it’s funny because it’s true”.
I think it’s safe to say that we all thought this book was a fun pick for our 365 project. For young listeners, we enjoy reading entertaining stories that also tell us more about how the world works…and this sort of falls into that category. It’s reality-based entertainment. I also really enjoyed Mo Willems’ illustrations, which won the book a Caldecott honor…presumably for the interesting combination of cartoons against a backdrop of black and white photographs. His drawings were a lot of fun – characteristically simple and amusing, evoking an even bigger smile from a story that was already funny on its own.