owen

When You Have to Break the Blanket Bond

Posted by on February 22, 2013.

When you look at your child, it is likely that they are carrying their favorite blanket, pacifier, or stuffed animal. It is also likely that that stuffed bear has seen its fair share of chocolate milk, dirt, and drool. When it comes to that point in your child’s life where their “best friend” is still dirty after seven runs in the washer, Owen by Kevin Henkes will be your best friend.

The book begins with the main character, Owen, a small toddler-age mouse. He is in love with Fuzzy, his yellow blanket. He eats, sleeps, bathes, and plays with Fuzzy, and the two seem to be inseparable. Eventually, his parents come to the conclusion that it is time for Fuzzy to go. His parents seek advice from their neighbor, Mrs. Tweezers.

She gives them parental tricks of the trade, like the classic “blanket fairy” and “vinegar” secrets. Even when Owen’s parents get to the point of just saying “No”, Owen holds onto Fuzzy. At the end of this charming and cutely illustrated book, Owen’s mother comes up with an ingenious idea that pleases not only them, but Owen as well.

Now, I remember when I had my own unbreakable friendship with a stuffed dog, Opie. I considered him my best friend; I never went out of the house, or let alone out of my room, without him. He was the thing that I could talk to if I was feeling sad, happy, angry, curious, or just wanted someone to talk to.

The bond that a child shares with a toy, blanket, or pacifier is something nobody can touch. But there comes a time when that dependence on an inanimate object needs to be replaced with self reliance. This change, this “growing up,” can be very hard for the child – and sometimes even more so for the parent. I know this from personal experience. My parents had a hard time separating my sister from her blanket. They tried everything, constantly attempting to slowly ween her off of her dependence of the blanket. After endless efforts, they read her Owen, hoping she would be able to relate to the mouse with his one friend made of fabric.

Reading this book helped my sister see that she was a “big girl,” and her blanket was something a baby had. After reading my sister started weening herself off of her blanket, all by herself. She was attached to it; it seemed like a miracle. She started leaving it at home, not bringing it with her on play dates, and eventually just kept it on her bed for sentimental reasons. She was able to comfort herself without her blanket there.

This kind of extraordinary, yet ordinary transformation perfectly illustrates the power that reading and the lessons learned from books can have on a young mind. Books bring lessons and experiences into our lives, changing us in small and profound ways. Books can teach, alter, and change your way of life – and thinking – if you just open the cover and start reading.

More about Owen:

Reviews of Owen on the author Kevin Henkes’ website.

An interesting article about life-changing books on NPR.

Buy the book.

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