Poor Nubby. The plush toy rabbit has been “carried, buried, dropped, dragged, torn, worn, chewed on, sat on, and even used as a nose wipe. Repeatedly.” What a life! No wonder Nubby decides to head off in search of a place where he’ll be far more appreciated than he is at home.
First, Nubby tries making friends with the real rabbits in the yard, but they ignore him. Next, he joins a neighbor child’s magic show in the hope of achieving stardom, but that doesn’t work out either. Finally, Nubby decides that wealth must be the answer, but he soon discovers that there is no greater treasure than being truly loved.
Nubby is filled with hilarious illustrations and well-written prose that begs to be read aloud. Illustrator Shanda McCloskey excels at creating emotions from simple lines and shapes. Nubby exudes dour displeasure as he’s picked and pulled at, his angry unibrow a single thick squiggle. He can’t speak to protest his rough treatment, since his mouth is merely a thin vertical line descending from a pink triangle nose. Despite the many injustices Nubby endures, there’s also buoyant joy in McCloskey’s illustrations, from the dog who is all too happy to run around the neighborhood with Nubby in his mouth to the gratitude of the boy who hugs Nubby tightly upon his return and, yes, still sometimes uses our hero as a hankie.
Author Dan Richards doesn’t miss a moment for humor in his writing, using repetition and grandiosity to give the story a dramatic flair. This approach might go over the heads of the youngest of readers, who may also be troubled by an image of Nubby lying on the ground, tattered and surrounded by white stuffing, accompanied by text that describes how “the pain in his chest cut deep, deeper than torn cloth and strewn stuffing.” Yet the story’s wit and dramatic tension are sure to make it a crowd pleaser among a slightly older and more worldly readership.
Nubby is a worthy tribute to all the beleaguered, beloved toys who serve as constant, comforting companions through childhood.