Corduroy – Don Freeman

POINTS: 4 out of 10.

Bechdel:  0 points
Variety of characters: 1 point
Good story: 2 points
Discretionary ideological points: 1 point

I really liked this book. Not one I was previously familiar with, but I enjoyed it.

Corduroy is a bear in a department store. A little girl wants to buy him but her mother says no, because he has a missing button. So after the store closes he goes looking for his button. He has various bear-like “stuck in a shop at night” adventures before a security guard finds him and returns him to his spot, still buttonless. Luckily though, the little girl, Lisa, comes back the next day and uses her savings to buy him and take him home.

The book doesn’t get the Bechdel pass, since Lisa and Corduroy are the only named characters, but it does get points for diversity  – Lisa and her mother are black. I really hate that this is even notable, to tell you the truth. But I do like that it’s totally a non-issue in the book. This isn’t a book about a “black girl”, it’s about the beginning of a friendship between a girl and her bear. The girl just happens to be black. Yay, Don Freeman!

The story is charming. C really enjoyed it too. There is a repeated refrain where Corduroy in his adventures says things like, “I think I’ve always wanted to climb a mountain”, which in this case is about riding an escalator. It ends with him saying, after Lisa has taken him home, “I know I’ve always wanted a home” and “I’ve always wanted a friend”. (Cue all the “awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww”.)

It’s a lovely little tale about finding the place you belong and people who love you “the way you are”, and frankly in this crazy world, we can never have too much of that. Ideologically it’s very simple, and that’s the basic theme really. Corduroy goes looking for his button, to make him ‘good enough’, and then is accepted the way he is. Lisa sews a new button on him, but makes a point of telling him she likes him as he is, but she thinks he will be more comfortable if she fixes his clothes.

Good stuff. I’m glad I found this book. It really is quite lovely. Recommended.

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