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Review: Knuffle Bunny Free by Mo Willems

Knuffle Bunny Free
By Mo Willems
Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)
ISBN: 978006192957
Grades PreK-2
In Stores Sept. 28, 2010

*Best New Books*

Few picture books enjoy the sort of universal affection that Knuffle Bunny and sequel Knuffle Bunny Too command. This love has been earned. Aside from a storyline that both kids and adults can relate to, there are moments of expertly delivered humor depicted with an illustration style that stands out. Seriously, try to think of a children’s lit fan who doesn’t love Mo William’s vaguely biographical saga of Trixie, her parents, and her beloved stuffed rabbit. Well, the saga ends here as the third book in the trilogy, the well-titled Knuffle Bunny Free, is poised to hit shelves. Seamlessly continuing the story, this third act delves into the theme of growing up. It fits right in to the series, which is to say it’s terrific.

Trixie and her parents are off to visit Oma (grandma) and Opa (grandpa) in the Netherlands. As always, the pale green knuffle bunny is along for the trip. And as always, the bunny goes missing. When the pale green rabbit ends up on a flight to China, the adults do their best to fill the void (the robot bunny purchased by Oma and Opa delivers a comedic high point). But Trixie is growing up, and she eventually realizes that her favorite stuffed animal can now become the favorite of someone else. This thought makes our heroine happy, and when her bunny reappears on the trip home, she decides to set it free for good.

As Trixie has grown, the books have followed suit. Knuffle Bunny Free may have more words than the first two books combined. This, along with the thematic subject matter, make this title work for a slightly older audience.

The illustrations are a winning synthesis of crisp black-and-white photography with ink and digital artwork over the top. It’s so seamless that you occasionally forget that this is a mix of real life and illustration. I had a good time going back through the book just to examine the scenery.

A fitting end to a trilogy filled with humor and heart. Knuffle Bunny Free delivers a satisfying conclusion.

Review copy from publisher.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.