By Don Freeman
Corduroy is a story about a bear who lives in the toy department of a big store. His goal throughout the story is to get a new button for his overalls, and for someone who loved him to take him. A girl named Lisa comes along and wants to buy him, but her mother says that she has already spent too much that day, and that the bear looks old and is missing a button. Once he realizes that he has lost his button, he takes the night looking around the store for his button. As he goes along, he discovers the escalator, the second floor, and new furniture, all of which he has never seen, and repeatedly says, "I've always wanted to..." He believes that the elevator is a mountain, and the second floor is a palace. He finds a large bed, and pulls a button off, thinking it is his overall strap button. As it comes off, he flies backwards and knocks down a lamp. When the nightwatchman hears the crash, he investigates, eventually finding two fuzzy ears poking out from the covers of the largest bed. The nightwatchman tucks him under his arm and brings him back to the toy department, where Corduroy falls asleep. The next day, Lisa comes back and buys Corduroy with her own money. When Corduroy gets to Lisa's apartment, he says, "This must be home. I know I've always wanted a home!" Lisa then sows a button into Corduroy's overalls, when Corduroy says, "You must be a friend. I've always wanted a friend." Lisa answers, "Me too!" as she gives Corduroy a big hug, bringing the story to an end.
Many say that the meaning behind this story is that nothing can break the bonds of friendship. I agree. Corduroy shows this by demonstrating his desire for friendship. He goes to the extent of riding up the escalator, exploring the second floor, and finally pulling off a button from the bed in order to gain a friendship with Lisa. Lisa demonstrates friendship by buying and appreciating Corduroy for who he is. Corduroy never got his button on that night, but Lisa shows true friendship by buying Corduroy anyways, and then fixing his overalls herself. She states, "I like you the way you are", which shows that she has a true and pure love for Corduroy, no matter what is wrong with him. Together, they demonstrate that the power of friendship is stronger than anything, and that nothing can overcome it.
Another more vague implication about the story is that you should be happy no matter who you are. When Lisa first sees Corduroy, she has a love for him, but the mother says that the bear looks old because of his missing button. Corduroy spends the night on an adventure, trying to find his button. On the adventure, he finds new things and makes new discoveries. He says, "Could this be a mountain? I think I've always wanted to climb a mountain." and "This must be a palace! I guess I've always wanted to live in a palace." He also says, "This must be a bed. I've always wanted to sleep in a bed." Finally, he thinks he found his button, but when he finally pulls it off the bed, he makes noise and doesn't get a button. One can imply that he is sad because he doesn't have a button, and like the day before, he feels like the girl won't take him. The next day, the girl gets her own money from her piggy bank together, and then buys Corduroy, despite him being different and missing a button. She says, " I like you the way you are" when they get to Lisa's apartment. This teaches that the right people will appreciate you know matter how different you are.
This story is great for young children, but children often do not realize the messages hidden within this story. The story teaches about true friendship and pure love. It shows how a bear with a missing button and a young girl living in the city come together to form a long-lasting friendship. It also teaches to be happy for who you are, and that friendship is a bond that cannot be broken. How do other stories portray messages that some children cannot see? What other children's stories portray the same messages that Corduroy portrays?