Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Literary Love: Knuffle Bunny Free

I thought the poster and print, both signed with exclamation points and rapidly drawn bunnies, were a wealth of Mo Willems swag in themselves. But as I stepped away from his line at BEA, a member of his entourage said, "Don't forget your F & G." (That's "folded and gathered," for the uninitiated. In other words, it's a galley of a picture book.) Like many of the authors present, Willems had written a trilogy, and my hands held a copy of Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion.

It's wonderful.

Everything that made the first two books wonderful is there, of course. The digital collage illustrations are there; I'm currently staring at a scene in which full-color Trixie and her grandmother sit in "how did he do that?" three-dimensional black-and-white chairs. The humor and "you know what I mean" tone is there, and as usual, Willems gives readers credit for understanding how both kids and adults feel.

But there's more. [Deliberately vague spoilers ahead.] This time, stuff of global proportions happens, and anyone who's followed Trixie or who has been a kid will know that the events in this book are cataclysmic. Against all odds, disaster is averted, and Trixie gets to make a choice. Her decision is an emotionally surprising one, one that makes me want to hug her. And that's what literary love is all about.