Mr. and Mrs. Bunny : detectives extraordinaire! / by Mrs. Bunny ; translated from the Rabbit by Polly Horvath ; illustrated by Sophie Blackall. New York, Schwartz & Wade Books, 2012.
LCCN 2010024133 ISBN 9.7803758676e+012, hardback, 16.9899.
248 p. : ill. ; 22 cm. Grades 2-4
Fic Rating: 3
Polly Horwath’s off-beat, anthropomorphic mystery Mr. and Mrs. Bunny–Detectives Extraordinaire! is a unique addition to the world of chapter books, which is dominated by formulaic series. The central character is a remarkably mature 5th grade girl named Madeline, who lives on an island off the coast of Canada. Madeline’s parents embrace an anti-establishment, free-thinking, laid-back hippy culture. Madeline acts as the adult in the family–taking care of finances, repairs, etc.
Meanwhile, Mr. and Mrs. Bunny are adjusting to life without their 12 children when they move to a new hutch. Their lives become intertwined with Madeline’s after her parents are kidnapped by some devious foxes who want a recipe decoded for their new business endeavor. After she finds the ransom note, Madeline goes to her uncle, who works for the government, for help, but he quickly falls into a coma. The bunnies meet Madeline and become determined to be detectives to solve the mystery.
Much of this story revolves around absurd circumstances and witty dialog. Some readers may not be pleased with how Horwath portrays Madeline’s parents as not very bright, occasionally using language that is not very nice (pee, crap). Moreover, the humor in the book may go straight over the heads of many children. The character of Madeline is particularly strong, as her personality keeps the story moving through one ridiculous situation after another. Overall, the book is quite well-written, the pencil illustrations are delightful, and the premise is amusing and original; but somehow the book seems to miss its target audience.
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