Knuffle Bunny Picture Book Analysis
By: Chrislyn Perry
Knuffle Bunny A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems is an adorable Caldecott Honor picture book. Mo Willems describes her book as "a brilliantly true-to-life tale about what happens when Daddy is in charge and things to terribly, hilariously, wrong." Several factors contribute to the quality of the book such as, the literary elements, physical features, artistic style and so on.
The literary elements of Knuffle Bunny are a direct reflection of the illustrations. The setting is modern day Brooklyn, New York which is portrayed by the artists unique combination of incorporating cartoon drawings of the characters in actual photographs of Brooklyn. This is a unique aspect of the book that makes it more interesting for the viewer. The plot starts with Trixie and her dad running an errand. It follows them through a serious of places, down the block, through the park, and past the school, ending them at the laundromat. It is easy to follow the places through the pictures because each page shows the exact place they are at. The characters are uniquely placed throughout the book and have realistic expressions to what they are going through. For example, Trixies emotions are portrayed exactly to the words the author uses in the text. Walking down the street you notice her big curious eyes, we can see she is almost sick feeling when her dad can't understand her "aggle flaggle klabble," we see her painted look as mom and dad are searching through the laundromat and we lastly can really see the excitement and relief she experiences when Knuffle Bunny is found. Each characters expressions are drawn very true to the text on each page.
The physical features such as the size of the book, shape of the pictures, cover, endpapers and font contribute to a meaningful experience of the book. The size of the book is fairly large which is perfect for all of its illustrations. I feel if the book was any smaller it would take away from the unique art used. The shape of the pictures are consistent throughout the story. Each page is green with the square, black and white photograph of Brooklyn. The characters stand out not only because of the colors chosen but of the black pencil like sketch around them. On some of the pages one or two of the characters overlap onto the green part of the page which consistently shows the movement the character is experiencing. The cover and endpaper go together to create a foreshadow of what happens in the book. The cover is simple, showing Trixie and Knuffle Bunny excited to go on errands with Dad. Opening the book the end sheet shows several doors of the washing machine with Knuffle Bunny in it. I didn't notice the foreshadow at my first read of the book but after reading it a couple times I could see how the cover and end sheet go along with the experience of the book. Lastly, the font size is average and consistent through the story. The black text is printed on the green portion of the book. The only time we see text on the images are when a character is speaking. The text is short and really is placed strategically to move your eye along the book in the way that the characters are moving through the park, past the school and so on.
Each of these pictures above show the characters bleeding off into the green which display the direction of where they are headed.
Visual Elements & Artistic Style
Knuffle Bunnys visual elements are very interesting and contribute positively to the books meaning. The artists use of color, shape, composition, point of view and distance bring the story to life. The colors chosen are interesting because each photograph is in black and white with cartoon art people in lighter pastel looking colors. The shape of the images are square which is consistent through out the story. On most of the pages you see the character bleeding off onto the green space of the spread which gives the image motion. The artistic style is a dual composition use of realistic photographs and cartoon art. The point of view and distance to which we are in the story start off where were we are really watching the story. When Trixie looses snuffle bunny that is the first time where we are really brought into the story and can feel what she is going through.
The picture below shows the first time we are really brought in, up close to Trixie.
The artistic media used is a dual combination of photographs and cartoon art. I believe the cartoon art was made with pencil and then colored on a computer program. I am not 100% sure to this because I have not found any evidence of it online. The book itself says "By combining expressive cartoon drawings with beautiful photographs of Brooklyn, New York, the creator..."
Elements of Illustration & Interplay of Text and Illustration
Knuffle Bunny's elements of illustrations are perfect for younger readers. The text on each page is fairly large and short. The text goes hand in hand with the images to create concrete meaning and leaves no confusion as to what is going on with the progressive plot. Page turns through out the book could go relatively fast because of the short text but I found myself sticking on the pages for a bit longer to really get a feel of the images. The photographs and text are arranged on the page in a way that show the movement through the park, past the school and so on.
Knuffle Bunny is overall a unique and exciting high quality children's literature book. I would recommend it to anyone child who wants to sit down and read or is getting tucked into bed at night!
Willems, Mo. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale. Print.