There’s nothing like having a special friend who is almost exactly your age, who understands everything you are thinking and feeling, who has great ideas, is stuffed with kisses, and is perfect for snuggling up with at bedtime. It’s even better if he was a gift made by your Grandma Nonni, who can sew anything. For one little girl, her blue bunny, Bubbit is all this and more. And when her parents tell her that a new baby is coming to her family soon, Bubbit knows just how she feels. Together they worry, then get excited, then help prepare, until the big day arrives and Grandma Nonni comes to stay while everyone else goes to the hospital. Of course, it’s Bubbit who has the idea to make a surprise for the new baby, but it’s the little girl and her Nonni who plan, cut, sew, and fill it with kisses.
My girls love this story. I think all little girls have a sense that there is something special about their stuffed animals, that they feel and speak in ways that their other toys can’t. Even though my girls’ stuffed animals don’t get played with as much as the Legos or the ponies, there is always weeping and wailing if I suggest thinning out their collection. This story really speaks to their belief that those stuffed animals are not just things, they are their friends, they are understanding and comforting and encouraging. (My husband does not understand this at all, but he has never been a little girl, after all.) I love that the little girl in the story wants to give her new brother that same kind of friend. For her, it really is the most special and powerful gift she could give him, and it shows that she’s developed a real empathy for him as a person who feels and needs like her. It’s an important shift in perspective for new siblings.
Another thing I like about this book is the celebration of doing things by hand, of really giving something from the heart that you created from scratch. These days, grandmas like Nonni, who can look at a picture, create a pattern, and whip up a stuffed elephant in a day, are pretty rare. I know they exist, I just don’t know where to find them. Most of us don’t have them in our family. Even my mother, who makes my daughters look like expensive renaissance princesses for Halloween, wouldn’t attempt a stuffed elephant modeled after a picture on the wall. But in a world where we can find just about whatever we want pre-made at the click of a button, it’s nice to stop and remember that the amount of yourself that you put into a gift adds more to its value than anything else.
To find out if this book at your public library, visit World Cat.
Maggie Smith also has a great website. (She’s not the same Maggie Smith as the actress, by the way, just in case you were curious. I know I was.)