More than 150 Brooklyn bookworms flocked to Park Slope Library on June 27 to celebrate the unveiling of a bronze shrine of the famed literary rabbit “Knuffle Bunny.”
The carrot-chomping character is the brainchild of Park Slope native Mo Willems, who first debuted the bunny in his 2004 picture book “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale.” The book tells the tale of a grief-stricken little girl named Trixie who traumatically loses Knuffle Bunny — her stuffed animal best friend — which forces her parents on a heroic mission through Park Slope to rescue the toy.
The legend of Knuffle Bunny developed a cult-like following in the years since its original debut — spawning two sequels, a musical, and an animated short film.
Willems said the erection of the statue represents the physical enshrinement of the heartwarming message behind the Knuffle Bunny tales.
“The Knuffle Bunny books were created as an ode to the small stories that are the building blocks of a family’s grand narrative and to the idea of Brooklyn,” said Willems. “That these small stories have now become a physical part of Brooklyn is an honor that cannot be expressed in words.”
The 18-inch bronze monument — sculpted into Knuffle Bunny’s likeness by Chad Rimer — now permanently resides on a stone bench in the Reading Circle and Storytelling Garden outside the library at 431 Sixth Ave., ensuring that no more children will lose Knuffle Bunny again.
Rimer — a fellow Sloper — said the chance to sculpt such a classic Brooklyn-centric literary icon for his local library was an opportunity he could not pass up.
“It was very meaningful to have the opportunity to sculpt Mo Willems’ Knuffle Bunny for my local public library, and an honor to contribute artwork to my community,” he said. “It was also immensely fun bringing the Knuffle Bunny off the page and into bronze, where little and big book lovers alike can sit with it, read it, touch it, and let their imaginations take flight.”
Willems used the unveiling ceremony to read to assembled children in the garden, who followed along with the author as he performed a dramatic performance of the statue’s namesake work of fiction.
The bronze-bunny’s installation marks the end of a years long fight to get the monument installed, as library reps fought to secure adequate funding and approval from the city’s Public Design and Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Community Board 6 — the civic group overseeing Park Slope — voted unanimously in May 2018 to send a recommendation to the commission to approve the bunny-shrine.
Once city design gurus gave the green light, the library secured funds from the family of Jane Bethge Lynch, which donated the estimated $6,000 to cover the cost of the statue.
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