Park Slope-based children’s book character Knuffle Bunny was welcomed to a permanent spot in Brooklyn on Thursday.
A bronze statue of the stuffed bunny from Mo Willems’ picture book, "Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale," now sits in the garden outside of the Brooklyn Public Library’s Park Slope branch. Children, their parents and Willems himself celebrated the unveiling of the bunny on Thursday with a reading by the author.
In the story, Knuffle Bunny is lost in a laundromat that is actually just four blocks from the library. The book is filled with photographs of his owners’ journey to get him back, an adventure that Willems believes will inspire the local children.
“The point of the Knuffle Bunny books, aside from being Brooklyn-centric, is that little stories matter, that little things can be adventures,” the former Park Slope resident said. “The idea that this little story has become a permanent object in the life of a city is remarkable and hopefully kids will be able to see that their little stories, their mishaps, are worthy of telling and potentially even worthy of bronzing.”
During the statue-reveal celebration, Willems read the story to guests with children following along, pointing at the pictures in the book, and laughing at Willems’ impersonation of the story’s dialogue. He also autographed their personal copies of “Knuffle Bunny.”
Joining Willems was Chad Rimer, 41, a fellow Park Slope resident and the creator of the statue. “I love the character. I’ve always loved [Willems] books,” said Rimer, 41.
The process for building the 18-inch statue took three months — and Rimer built it with the help of his six-year-old son right in their Park Slope apartment. “It’s definitely a homegrown Park Slope book.”
But the small statue built in Rimer’s small apartment left a big impact on children and their parents.
Caitlin Mccormick, 39, said her two children love the character, especially her eight-year-old son Quin.
“He’s read all of the books,” she said. “We are friends with the sculptor and we’ve been watching Knuffle Bunny from the beginning. … It’s been a very exciting experience.”
Quin said his favorite part of the book is when Knuffle Bunny’s owner, a toddler named Trixie, is trying to tell her dad that the bunny is lost. It made his favorite toy — a stuffed dog — even more special.
“It definitely was one of my favorite books when I was a kid and it just stuck with me,” he said.
Known as “Park Slope’s most famous resident,” Knuffle Bunny will remain on display in the garden, free for the public to visit.