Thursday, September 18, 2014


Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery
Deborah & James Howe
Atheneum, 1979  98 pgs
Grades 2-5

The Monroes return home from the movies with a strange box: the contents of which contain a rabbit they found at the theater.  Since it was a Dracula movie they name the new addition Bunnicula.  Family dog, Harold, and cat, Chester, find the new guy hard to get to know.  Suspicions arise when all of the color and liquid from the family's vegetables begins to disappear over night.   Could Bunnicula be a vampire bunny?  Chester is very distrustful of the little guy and begins to block the entrance to the kitchen at night.  Realizing that Bunnicula is slowly starving, Harold concocts a plan to get his new friend some much needed veggies.  Unfortunately the plan goes awry, resulting in mayhem, mess, and a trip for all the family pets to the dreaded vet.   All's well that ends well, as Harold does not need any shots, Chester is allowed to talk out his neurosis with a kitty therapist, and Bunnicula is put on a liquid diet, eliminating the need for vampire-like behavior.  Written in the form of a manuscript delivered to the book's editor by Harold the dog, Bunnicula is sure to please readers who like their mysteries with a touch of humor.

I love Bunnicula.  I loved it when I first read it over twenty years ago and still love it today.  What reader can resist dopey, lovable Harold the dog and precocious and suspicious Chester the cat?  Throughout the book Bunnicula remains a bit of an enigma (why do Chester and Harold talk, but Bunnicula doesn't?), but by book's end we feel sorry for the hungry little guy and relieved when Harold takes him under his wing.   The mystery is light and is never fully solved (we never see Bunnicula in action sucking the veggies dry),  but readers won't mind.  There is much humor in the book, keeping the mood light.  Although the book deals with a vampire bunny and much of the action takes place at night, it never gets too scary.  The concept is great, making the book an easy sell.  Reluctant readers will pick this book up, especially if they need to read a mystery.  It will appeal to both boys and girls and will especially be appreciated by animals lovers.  At less than 100 pages Bunnicula is not too long and is generously sprinkled with illustrations to break up the text.  For fans of the book, there are other titles to follow in the series, the second being Howliday Inn.  It is no accident that Bunnicula has been continuously in print for thirty-five years.  Hopefully it will stay in print for at least thirty-five more!

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