Not so long ago, before there even was a Knuffle Bunny Free, Harper became obsessed with the original Knuffle Bunny. She would point to Trixie when she lost KB and say “sad,” and make a sad face, and then when Trixie found KB again Harper would celebrate along with her, standing up and jumping up and down and screaming “Bunny!” I’m sure even if I weren’t her mother I would this exceedingly cute. In the often-misguidedly optimistic “If you liked this, you’ll love this” way of parents everywhere, I ran out to the library and got Knuffle Bunny Too, which Harper was only mildly interested in. But the newest book of the bunch, Knuffle Bunny Free, is a big winner in our household.
These books, if you don’t know them, are illustrated with these very expressive cartoons over black-and-white photographs of Park Slope, Brooklyn. In fact, Trixie and her family live in the very same corner of Park Slope that we do. I don’t know if this registers with Harper yet, but the narcissist in me gets a kick out of seeing our very own local streets, park, school, and Laundromat featured in such an adventure. But I’m sure even if I didn’t live here I would love the charming illustrations, and the character of Trixie just cracks me up.
Anyway, Knuffle Bunny Free takes the show on the road, to the Netherlands no less. Trixie is older and the story (and her relationship to her beloved KB) more complicated than ever. To be honest, Harper still prefers the original, which has a lovely simplicity, but then again, she’s only 19 months old. But this new book, man, it gets me. I know this is probably largely pregnancy hormones making me all extra emotional but seriously I CRY EVERY TIME. I’m not really giving anything away when I say the ending is very bittersweet. Really I can hardly think about it or I will start crying all over again. Oy. I think that since it’s sort of all about growing up, this would be a really great book for an older kid — a 6 or 7 year old maybe? — with very hormonally sturdy parents.
We are giving Knuffle Bunny Free a rating of 4.5 Balloons. It loses half a balloon because of the fold-out centerfold that I’m willing to bet is already ripped in every single purchased copy, and for the epilogue which I feel is really manipulating me emotionally.