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Panda Brand ()

A Tribute to a Child's Best, Bedraggled Friend

Apr 1, 2007 (Weekend Edition Sunday)

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Katie Kittenheart

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Remember your favorite childhood companions? The stuffed animals you dragged through the mud, carried around by their ears, drooled on, dropped ... the ones now missing eyes or hair?

Although much abused and maligned, these companions — the blankets, teddy bears, stuffed bunnies and dolls — stuck by you day and night.

Cheryl and Jeffrey Katz have created a tribute to these threadbare friends in their book, Dirty Wow Wow and Other Love Stories.

Below are two of Cheryl Katz's fuzzy favorites from the book. Contact us to share your own stories.

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Panda Brand

A good rule of thumb when giving a gift is to choose something that you would want to receive. Even at three years old, Rebecca and her twin sister, Elyssa, had a sophisticated understanding of this principle. When their mother took them to the mall to choose a gift for their father's birthday, the girls chose Panda Brand.
Naturally, their father was thrilled with Rebecca and Elyssa's thoughtfulness, but admittedly uneasy with their request that he play with Panda and sleep with Panda. Every night. Not wanting to disappoint the girls or belittle their generosity, Dad honored their demands—until he developed a mysterious allergy to the bear. The girls, gracious as ever, offered to take care of Panda Brand for their father. And twenty years later, they still do.

Katie Kittenheart

When seven-year-old Alexandra spotted Katie Kittenheart in an upscale Pittsburgh toy store, she had to have her. Katie's startling blue eyes were hidden under an adorable puff of real white rabbit fur, so you could see them only by gently blowing on her. Though Alex didn't have a cat of her own, she possessed a modicum of understanding about feline grooming techniques, and she took to tidying up Miss Kittenheart with her own little human tongue baths. Small wonder that twenty-seven years later, Katie Kittenheart still looks alarmed.

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