Bunnicula – Deborah and James Howe, illustrated by Alan Daniel

Today Vegetables…Tomorrow the World!

…the classic tale of Bunnicula, the vampire rabbit. Who hasn’t read this book? Or, at least, seen it in the library and rejected it in favour of something less scary-looking (like the Cam Jansen mysteries, where you always know that Cam Jansen will save the day)?

I didn’t read Bunnicula when I was in grade 2 (which was when everyone else was reading it), because I thought it was scary and was reading Cam Jansen. But I did read Nighty-Nightmare in grade 5, and then went back and read Bunnicula, The Celery Stalks at Midnight, and Howliday Inn…all tales of the Monroe family related to the human world by Howard the dog. Howard takes us through the slightly scary but mostly funny tale of the newest Monroe, a small rabbit found in the movie theatre on a dark and stormy night. Chester (the cat) is immediately suspicious about “Bunnicula”, who has strange black cape-like markings, sleeps all day, and (so he says) has fangs. When colourless, juiceless vegetables are found in the Monroe household, Chester decides to take action.

Cool book, neat idea, pretty funny, and really – how scary is a vampire bunny rabbit? The whole series is pretty tame, and the suspense comes from the mystery of wondering what crazy thing Chester will do next.

I like Alan Daniel’s illustrations. There are about one or two drawings per chapter (did I mention there are chapters? Nine chapters, 92 pages), which is a nice rate for those of us who like to see as well as read. It also graduates this book (and the reader) from Little Bear and Frog and Toad into something a bit “older”: something slightly scary, slightly mysterious, and slightly difficult to read.

Something struck me as funny this time around, though. This book is totally upper-middle class. What do I mean by that? Here are the deets that come out in Howard’s narrative:

  • Mr. Monroe is a college professor.
  • Mrs. Monroe is a lawyer.
  • They have three pets (dog, cat, and oh yes, the vampire rabbit).
  • Their kids talk about taxes.
  • They shop at a market.
  • They named their cat after an author.
  • They send their cat to a cat psychiatrist.

Yeah. Strange, the information that sits in the margins of this little thriller.

So, I read it in grade 5, very, very quickly. And you know what? I read it the other day at 30+. But I think that it would be best enjoyed by someone younger. I distinctly remember zipping through it in grade 5 to “see what happened” but not otherwise being terribly interested.

Favourite Quote: “Hey Harold, Dad got a raise and now we’re in a higher tax bracket.”

Reading Age: 7-9.

Rating: B+

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