Saturday, October 20, 2012

Book #294: Corduroy by Don Freeman

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Corduroy is a small stuffed bear that lives on a shelf with other toys in a big department store. None of the shoppers ever look at Corduroy until one day a little girl in pink coat points to him and tells her mother, “Look! There’s the very bear I’ve always wanted.” Unfortunately, her mother points out that the bear is missing a button and says not, “Not today, dear.” Corduroy had never realized he was missing a button, but that night after the store closes he climbs down from the shelf to search for his button. He doesn’t find his button, but that’s ok because Lisa, the girl in the pink coat, returns the next day to bring Corduroy home. She sews a new button onto his green overalls and Corduroy says, “You must be a friend, I’ve always wanted a friend.”

Although the conflict is minor (that pesky lost button!), this simple story is driven along on the charm of the little brown bear in green corduroy overalls. Freeman’s storytelling style is plain, yet compelling. The illustrations use loose inky brush strokes combined with washes of watercolor and hatching to create Corduroy’s world. First published in 1968, this book is also notable for featuring an African-American girl, although race is not a driving force in the plotline.  Regardless of her appearance, Lisa’s desire for a toy and a friend is universal.

Ask kids to bring in their favorite stuffed animal or toy to storytime. Have kids design a new outfit for Corduroy or for their stuffed animal/toy.

The Scholastic website suggests having kids set up a teddy bear store. Have them make price tags and signs.

This book is a great excuse to do some button crafts. Check your local thrift store for buttons; often you can get an entire jar or bag for just a few dollars. Put the buttons in a shallow tray (you can use a baking sheet) so that kids can easily sort through the different colors and shapes. If you have buttons with big enough holes, have kids thread the buttons into yarn to make a bracelet or necklace. Create button collages by gluing the buttons to cardstock or cardboard (regular paper won’t be able to hold very many buttons). Encourage kids to draw around their glued buttons, which can easily be turned into the center of flowers, eyes, car wheels.

This was one of my favorite books growing up. I had a stuffed bear and I remember going to the fabric store with my mother to buy a scrap of green fabric to make overalls for him. There are several more books that feature Corduroy, some by Freeman and some by other authors. My favorites are the original book and the first sequel, A Pocket for Corduroy.


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