The Anatomy of a Picture Book Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Williams, Mo Williams, Caldecott Honor Recipient Workshop with Selene Castrovilla. This event was held at the Huntington Library in Huntington, New York, on May 2, 2019. RM Rivera took the notes.
Workshop Description: Selene taught participants how to dissect Mo Williams’ picture book, study the anatomy and development of the story. Show how the words and pictures are married together — afterward, a brief lesson on how to make a PB dummy demonstrated by RM Rivera.
Plot Summary: Trixie, a toddler, and learning how to speak goes with her dad to go to the laundry mat. Trixie takes her favorite stuffed animal, Knuffle Bunny with her. Once the laundry is in the machines, they go back home. Halfway home, Trixie realizes Knuffle Bunny is missing. Trixie does everything to tell her dad she is unhappy. The conflict is centered around Trixie trying to communicate to her dad, Knuffle Bunny is gone. Young readers find this relatable.
The Key Takeaways from Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale:
The story of picture books begins on page four.
The opening scene tells the reader important information about the character, “Before Trixie could speak she went on errands with her father.” The hook gives a few important details to the reader. The illustrations show, Trixie, a toddler, is leaving the house with her father. Her dad is carrying a laundry basket.
The problem of the story is shown through the illustrations, giving the reader the problem before the characters. On page twelve, Trixie realizes Knuffle Bunny is missing.
The characters are very well developed through words and illustrators. Mo Williams shows Trixie upset with her dad. “She bawled. Waaaaaaa.” and “She went boneless.” Children and parents can relate to this. Using fun combinations of funny words in Trixie’s speech, “Aggle Flaggle Klabble!” shows the reader Trixie is explaining to her father Knuffle Bunny is gone. The father is clueless. Big speech bubbles with large fonts show something important is happening. Trixie’s worry and anxiety are real.
Mo Williams’ illustrations show a wide variety of expressions and emotions. Mo Williams knows his audience will get it, without bogging them down with words.
The theme of Knuffle Bunny is taking responsibility for each other and our actions. Humor is used to poke fun at the situation, to a very relatable and realistic scenario.
Making a Dummy: Authors can make a simple dummy to help them with their manuscripts. Making a dummy will help an author do several things:
Edit and cut extraneous words.
How to pace a story.
Create a narrative arc.
Shows how each scene changes. Also, how characters move from page to page.
Visualize the story unfolding.