Owen (Caldecott Honor Book)
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Owen had a fuzzy yellow blanket. “Fuzzy goes where I go,” said Owen. But Mrs. Tweezers disagreed. She thought Owen was once too old for a blanket. Owen disagreed. It doesn’t matter what Mrs. Tweezers came up with, Blanket Fairies or vinegar, Owen had the answer. But when school started, Owen’t mother knew just what to do, and everyone — Owen, Fuzzy, and even Mrs. Tweezers — was once happy.
The clinical name is transitional object, but for young children, a beloved blanket is more like a lifeline. And that’s the reason exactly how Owen feels about his baby blanket, fondly named Fuzzy. The Owen-Fuzzy relationship is cruising along smoothly until a nosy neighbor, Mrs. Tweezers, leans over the fence and asks his parents, “Isn’t he getting a little old to be carrying that thing around?” With kindergarten just around the corner, Owen’s parents wonder if he must in reality relinquish his prized Fuzzy. Kevin Henkes uses his signature mouse characters and jewel-tone watercolors to explore the antics and foils of one mouse-boy, one rag-blanket, and two parents wondering how to help their son kick the habit. This is what Henkes does best–playfully bringing childhood fears and feelings to the surface at the same time as portraying real-life parent-child tensions. Mrs. Tweezers, a real sourpuss, is no help at all. She offers terrible over-the-fence advice, such as dipping Fuzzy in vinegar (as if to cure a nail-biting habit) or stealing the blanket in the night.
It’s not until the eve of Owen’s first day of kindergarten that his mother hatches the easiest solution. In the long run, she finds a way that Owen can hang on to his first true love at the same time as also taking the next move into middle childhood–a solution that suits everyone, including Mrs. Tweezers. Caldecott Honor Book, Horn Book Fanfare Honor List, ALA Notable Book, Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Book, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, ALA Booklist Children’s Editors’ Choice. (Ages 3 and older) –Gail Hudson
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