My Fuzzy!! by Alia Jones
Kevin Henkes has won several awards for excellence in illustration and writing. Most recently he won a Caldecott Honor and a Geisel Honor for Waiting, which is a beautiful book. Not only is he a skilled illustrator, he’s a powerful storyteller and when I think of stories that have heavily influenced how I critique (and enjoy) picture books, his always come to mind.
I first read Owen when I was a little girl and that little mouse and his blanket have stayed with me. I’d read it over and over again and even as I read it now, I can’t help but crack a smile because it’s so clever and funny! Many people rally around Chrysanthemum and Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse (deservedly so) but I want to show some love for little Owen and his awesome parents. It’s ultimately a book about relationships.
Owen is the story of a little mouse who’s very attached to his fuzzy yellow blanket. It’s practically his best friend. Fuzzy is its name and Owen doesn’t go anywhere without it. The family’s nosy neighbor Mrs. Tweezers suggests that maybe Owen is getting too old to carry a blanket around and his parents begin several (failed) attempts at taking the blanket away. He’s very smart and catches on to their plans pretty quickly. See, Owen starts school soon and he hasn’t let go of his blanket yet, so his parents are worried. But one day, Owen’s mom has the best idea. She takes Fuzzy and cuts it into…handkerchiefs! This way, her big boy can keep carrying Fuzzy, even though it looks a little different.
The pages of this book are filled with big round ears, wide pleading eyes, full smiles and Owen’s many expressions. Henkes’ bright watercolor and ink illustrations are so sweet. He does an amazing job of setting a scene, expressing emotions through body language and depicting love. It’s a great story for parents to experience with their children. Many of the lines in the story are directly accompanied by an illustration, so little ones can easily follow the pictures and work towards reading the words.
Here’s what I’ve always loved about this story, seeing the love between Owen and his parents. At first they try to trick him into letting go of his blanket, but they figure out a way to let him keep Fuzzy that encourages him to grow! They recognize how important Fuzzy is to him and respect that love. Also, Owen is pretty adorable and his enthusiasm is infectious!
If you haven’t read Owen yet, I hope you’ll pick it up and enjoy. If you haven’t read it in a long time, please jump back into this great story!
Alia Jones is a former elementary school teacher (in South Korea!) and former children’s bookseller. She loves reviewing and talking about great children’s books, especially ones that focus on diversity. She believes we need more books that reflect our colorful world. You can check out her blog at readitrealgood.com and follow her on Twitter @readitrealgood