Corduroy, written by Don Freeman, is a classic tale that many off us read and loved growing up, which makes it a special book to share with your children now. It’s simple brightly colored illustrations and memorable story about a little bear who is less than perfect make it a book to come back to time and again.
The Story of Corduroy
Corduroy is a stuffed teddy bear in little green overalls that waits day in and day out on a department store shelf for someone to come along and love him. One day a little girl spots him, but her weary mother says no, she can’t have him, and besides ‘he doesn’t even look new; he’s lost a button on one of his straps.’ Dejected the little girl walks away, and Corduroy sadly watches her go. That night he decides to go on a mission to find his lost button, which must be somewhere in the huge store. He climbs a mountain (really an escalator) and discovers beds, which he’s always wanted to sleep in. On one of the mattresses he thinks he’s found his button, but he gets taken downstairs by the night watchman before he can get it. The next morning he wakes up to a wonderful surprise-someone has come back to love him, even though he still doesn’t have his button.
I loved this book growing up, and reading it now and seeing the illustrations brought back a flood of wonderful memories. There aren’t a whole lot of technical things to say about the illustrations, but they are comforting and nostalgic if you’ve read the book, and if your child is reading it for the first time they are bright and engaging and are sure to create good memories of the book for them as well.
Some Special Things About Corduroy
Corduroy shares an important message- even the flawed are worthy of love. Corduroy may not look new, or have all his buttons, but the little girl loves him all the same. He doesn’t have to be ‘perfect’ in a technical sense to be perfect to her. It plays off of the innate sense of goodness that children possess, the fact that they can want and love something that an adult might dismiss. When I was younger I got in trouble while shopping for Christmas ornaments at a rather expensive store. I wanted to get one that was broken, because ‘it needed a home’ but my Dad refused. I snuck it into the cart, and even though he was less than pleased when we got home, we hang that ornament on our tree to this day. There’s a lovely open-mindedness featured in Corduroy that may make adults think twice before refusing their child something they don’t think is worth the cost.
Something else that stands out in this story is the fact that the protagonist is an African-American girl. When it was first published in 1968 this was not a common thing, and it was refreshing for many children of different races to finally read a book in which the main character was not Caucasian.
Should You Read It?
Corduroy is book that if you haven’t read, you should. It’s a warm sweet story that is just easy to love. Classics are classics for many reasons, and whatever they may be, Corduroy has them. Children today will enjoy this book just as much the children who read it when it first came out. To transgress the ages like that speaks to how special this book is.