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Corduroy by Don Freeman created by Kirsten Skoglund TE 348

Page history last edited by Bestow 7 years, 11 months ago



By: Don Freeman

Wiki: Kirsten Skoglund


"I didnt know that  I had lost a button", he said to himself. "Tonight I'll go and see if I can find it"





Front cover of Corduroy




Plot Summary

     Corduroy, written by Don Freeman is a beautiful and simplistic story which follows the adventure of a small and lonely bear named Corduroy who is looking for his missing button. He lives the toy department of a large department store, waiting day after day in hope that someone will hopefully buy him so he has a home. Corduroy is sad because he watches as the store is always filled with customers however no one ever seems to pay attention to him. He almost had his chance for a friend and a home when a little girl fell in love with Corduroy and wanted to take him home. However her mother would not let her buy him because he was not as new as the other toys and had a missing button. Corduroy and the little girl are deeply saddened as she leaves, but he realizes that he now has to go on the adventure of finding a new button. That night Corduroy adventures up the escalator into the furniture department, and is amazed sight of beds, tables, lamps, and sofas. He climbs up onto the beds thinking that his button will be on one of them. When he tries to yank and pull off one of the buttons he goes flying off the bed, hits a lamp, and falls to the floor causing quite a commotion. The guard on duty of the department store hears the crash and goes up to investigate, and is surprised to find Corduroy there but ends up taking him back down to his shelf. After an unsuccessful night of finding his button, Corduroy awakes to the little girl who was going to buy him the day before. The little girl tells Corduroy that because she had enough money in her piggy bank her mother said that she could now buy him. She runs home with Corduroy taking him up to her room where he sees his own perfect sized bed next to hers, realizing that this must be his home now.  The little girl tells Corduroy that although she loves him just the way he is, he would probably be more comfortable if he had a new button on his overalls. The bond of friendship between the little girl and Corduroy is very strong, he finally realizes that this is what it’s like to have a friend. This is a wonderful story because it teaches children that all things in this world need the bonds of friendship, love, and family. Corduroy is not a new toy; he has a missing button yet can still be loved by the little girl because she looks past his flaws only seeing the love he has to offer. 


Textual Elements



     The genre in the story Corduroy is fantasy because its elements demonstrate that it is fictional in which the plot of the story could not occur. Our text book The Joy of Children's Literature states that fantasy is “imaginative worlds make believe story, people and creatures, or events that could not happen”.  Corduroy fits perfectly into this genre because he is a bear that is alive; he talks, walks around, shows feelings, has emotion, and has the need for family and friendship. Corduroy has to go on an adventure to find his lost button, he goes up the escalator, climbs on the beds, and tries to take a button off a bed but falls in the process. In the real world stuffed toy bears are not alive he is an inanimate object and therefore cannot be alive.



     The setting of the story takes place in a large department store. The illustrations represent that the story is taking place in the early 1940’s from the cloths which the characters are wearing.



Corduroy: Corduroy the main character he is a cute stuffed bear with green corduroy overalls, who sits on a shelf in a large department store. He is sad that he has never been bought because he wants to have a friend and home. He goes on quest to find his missing button, however fails his mission and is put back on the shelf by the security guard watching over the department store. Corduroy finally finds a home with a little girl who loves him and sews on a new button for him.


The Little Girl: she is an African American girl who is shopping with her mother when she falls in love with Corduroy, but her mother will not let her buy him because her mother does not think he is a worn out toy. She is sad because he is the bear which she has always wanted. The next day however she returns with her own money to buy him, takes him home, and sews him a new button. Her and Corduroy share and strong bond of friendship and love for one another.


The Guard: The guard in the story is patrolling the department store when Corduroy is on his mission to find a new button. He hears a commotion upstairs in the furniture department when Corduroy falls off the bed, and goes to investigate. The guard is confused when he finds Corduroy and then puts him back on the shelf.


Point of View

     The point of view which Corduroy is written is third person. The bear Corduroy is telling the story and the illustrations depict and support that it is written in this point of view because he is telling the story.



     This story has multiple themes which tie into the main message that this book is one which can relate to all children. The first theme of the story is having hope. Day after day Corduroy watches as shoppers pass him by in the department store, however he never loses hope that someone will not buy him. The second theme of the book is to not judge others based on stereotypes. The little girl falls in love with Corduroy the moment she sees him, however her mother immeidiently tells her no because of his appearance. Corduroy is not the newest bear and he has a missing button on his overalls, therefore her mother thinks that she should not buy such a rough looking toy. However it does not matter to her because she loved Corduroy despite his imperfections. The last theme of the story is the need for friendship and love. All that Corduroy wants is to have a friend who can love and in return be loved. Children can see how sad the girl and Corduroy are without each other, and in the end are able to find happiness because of they have each other company.


Artistic Elements


     Corduroy has beautiful illustrations which allow children to use their imagination on Corduroy’s journey to find his missing button. The art by Don Freeman in the book is impressionistic because they emphasize light, color, and movement. The illustrations correlate with the text in the story and represent the emotion in which the characters are feeling. The story is fantasy therefore the stuffed animals are alive and illustrations give life to them. They also give a realistic appearance to the main characters but blur the lines and faces of the people who are in the background. The pictures are loosely drawn however give great detail to form the setting and facial characters. The colors are warm even though they painted with water colors. They have flow and movement giving the illustration depth and different proportions. The lines of the illustrations are straight and choppy, however flow together to give Corduroy a fuzzy and warm appearance. Corduroy in the illustrations has the appearance and texture that he is moving.  The artist does an excellent job of focusing on the facial expressions of the stuffed animals and people in the story to represent what is occurring in the story. Corduroy’s expressions are subtle however show exactly the emotion the text wants to represent. The author gives the reader an opportunity to see the feelings of the stuffed animals instead of leaving them expressionless.



     Such as when Corduroy is sad when the little girl is walking away he has an expression of great sadness, that it makes the reader almost want to reach into the picture and hug him (pg, 4)



This next picture emphasizes on when the stuffed animals are asleep the artist uses the lines and color definition to give the appearance that they are asleep, even though they are not real (pg, 21)




This illustration shows the love and friendship between the little girl and Corduroy even though it is has simple lines and color (pg, 28)




Analysis and Critique

The story of Corduroy I found to be uplifting and warm story of friendship. It is wonderful story to read to children about friendship, hope, and adventure. The author does an excellent job of relaying the message through the illustrations and text that appearance should not affect friendship. The little girl does not mind that Corduroy is not the new toy and has a missing button. She knows that in her heart that is the bear she has always wanted. The author’s voice throughout the story flows to match the text and is easily relatable to the young age group which this book is meant for. The problems which I found throughout the book was that the main human characters were African American, however after looking at the illustrations there are no other 5 only whites. After listening to an interview with Don Freeman’s son he explained that his father who is the author and illustrator actually wanted to make them African American because there were no other books at the time which had diversity among the characters. Therefore this makes it a revolutionary book for the time period being created in 1940.’s. The interview also discusses that he has received many letters over the years from families who have used this book for generations passing it along to each child because it is loved so greatly.  Looking at book reviews of Corduroy this has been a story which people have fallen in love since it was published and enjoy sharing it with their children because of its strong messages of hope and friendship. They state that their children like the simple ideas of a bear coming to life and sneaking around the department store in search of his missing button. The story Corduroy I have loved since a child my father had read it to me, and his mother had read it to him. The themes of the story are appropriate for young children, it has elements of love, friendship, and hope and the illustrations give life and warmth to Corduroy.


"Im Lisa", she said, "and your're going to be my very own bear. Last night I counted what Ive saved in my piggy bank and my mother said I could bring you home"



This is the interview with Don Freeman's son who talks about his fathers book




The review of the book from Barnes and Noble




Reading of Corduroy




B.G. Hennessy on working with Don Freeman






     Freeman, Don. Corduroy,. New York: Viking, 1968. Print.


     Johnson, Denise. The Joy of Children's Literature. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Pub,

2009. Print.





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