Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion
by Mo Willems
Certainly if I went to the Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical with my tween daughter, then I must have a fond spot for the books. (Okay, and Mo — no secret there.) The plot of the picture books is simple: girl has bunny, girl loses bunny, girl finds bunny again. But it’s not about the plot. In the first book, the subtext is the frustration of a toddler in not being understood (“Aggle Flaggle!”) and the helplessness of the parent in not understanding. The reward at the end is Trixie’s first word — and by extension the family moves to the next level of communication. In the second book, the loss of the bunny is surrounded by a conflict with a peer and ends with a discovery of real friendship. The parent conflict contained within is that of mothers and fathers struggling with encouraging strength and independence, yet wanting to save our dear children from any hardship. The third book sees Trixie on a trip to Holland to see her grandparents, and losing Knuffle Bunny this time exposes the whole family to the idea of When Hope May Be Lost. And then what it means to grow up — both for the child and for the parent watching the transition. A lovely, bittersweet conclusion to the series — and dare I hope, to an extended, full-length Knuffle Bunny musical.
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