Park Slope Library unveils statue of famed Knuffle Bunny

Park Slope Library unveils statue of famed Knuffle Bunny
Reviled: The Park Slope Library unveiled their 18-inch bronze Knuffle Bunny statue in the outdoor garden.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

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.

Ta-Da: Children’s book author Mo Willems shows off the statue to his famed character Knuffle Bunny.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

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.

Speeches: Councilman Brad Lander speaks at the unveiling ceremony at the Park Slope Library on June 27.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

“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.

Picture this: Local kids read along with Mo Willems as he reads from his 2004 picture book “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale.”
Photo by Caroline Ourso

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.”

Read-along: Mo Willems reads to kids at the Knuffle Bunny unveiling ceremony in the garden of the Park Slope Library.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

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.

Listening in: Attentive listeners surround the new Knuffle Bunny statue as they listen to the character’s creator Mo Willems read his famed book.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

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.

Artist: Chad Rimer, the sculpture behind the Knuffle Bunny statue, poses with his son at the bug unveiling on June 27.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at twitter.com/aidangraham95.

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