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  • 2005 Wanda Gág Read Aloud Honor Books

    Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale written and illustrated by Mo Willems and published by Hyperion Books for Children.

    Knuffle BunnyToddler Trixie, with a tight hold on her stuffed “Knuffle Bunny” joins her daddy on a trip to the neighborhood Laundromat. On the way back home, pre-verbal Trixie, discovering that Knuffle Bunny is left behind, tries every means possible to communicate her distress to her daddy, who remains clueless. When Daddy with Mommy’s help finally retrieves Knuffle Bunny, Trixie utters her first words: “Knuffle Bunny!”

    Willems’ illustrations and the overall book design merge perfectly with the text to tell the story of Trixie’s traumatic journey. The unique illustrations are a blend of cartoon sketches superimposed over sepia-toned airbrushed photographs.

    Children, ages two to six, loved this book and wanted it read over and over. They were intrigued by the pictures. A kindergartner commented: “They look real, but then they don’t.” The story inspired one two-year-old to reenact the stages of Trixie’s tantrum from baby talk, to crying and screaming, to the totally uncontrollable boneless stage.

    Author/illustrator Mo Willems, who lives in Brooklyn, took photos of his own neighborhood for the book.

    A guide for teachers is available on the publisher’s website. 

    Kumak's Fish: A Tall Tale from the Far North written and illustrated by Michael Bania and published by Alaska Northwest Books.

    Kumak's FishOn a spring day in the Alaskan Arctic, Kumak announces “Good day for fish” and packs his family, along with Uncle Aglu’s “amazing hooking stick” into their dogsled for a day of ice fishing on the nearby lake. This Iñupiat variant of the traditional tale of the enormous turnip demonstrates that it takes a village to catch a fish. An endnote explains Bania’s inspiration for her tall tale.

    Bania’s watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations, depicting the icy Arctic setting, provide readers with authentic details of the Iñupiat culture and show the joyfulness of the characters.

    Two-year-olds through nine-year-olds enjoyed this book and were captivated by Kumak. They appreciated the dialogue and repetition of numerous phrases. The ending when Kumak was having a hard time landing his fish especially intrigued the children, who enjoyed mimicking the twitching of the hooking stick.

    Michael Bania, who worked and lived in the Arctic Circle for nearly twenty years, now lives in Soldotna on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.

    An activity and teacher’s guide for this book is available on the publisher’s website.