Deborah Howe,
Bunnicula: A
Rabbit-Tale of Mystery

(Aladdin, 2006)

I don't care how old I get, I'm just not going to turn down a chance to read a book about a vampire rabbit, especially if it's told from the point of view of a dog.

Good old Harold was pretty much living the good life until the introduction into the household of a cute wittle bunny wabbit the Monroes brought home from the movies one night. (Apparently a Dracula fan, the bunny was all settled in to watch the Count do his thing when one of the Monroe kids sat on him in the theater.) Little Bunnicula doesn't really bother Harold at all, since he sleeps all day and doesn't come between him and his treats. Harold's feline friend Chester, on the other hand, doesn't cotton to Bunnicula at all, seeing what no one else seems to notice -- this bunny has fangs, and his coloration pattern sometimes makes it look like he's wearing a cape. Reading up on vampires while the Monroes sleep, Chester quickly becomes obsessed with getting this little bat in bunny's clothing out of the house as soon as possible -- especially after healthy vegetables begin to show up completely drained of their color.

There are some really funny bits in this story, including my favorite scene when Chester tries to let the Monroes know their newest pet is a vampire. Unfortunately, all this achieves is the Monroes' growing belief that their cat is getting cabin fever and needs to spend some quality time outside. With Chester temporarily out of the picture, Harold befriends Bunnicula, leaving Chester to resort to drastic measures once he finally gets the run of the house again. This leads to perhaps the funniest scene in the story, Chester's attempt to get rid of the vampire bunny for good -- he does just what the vampire book says, but his inability to distinguish between two words that look and sound very much alike proves to be his undoing (as well as, to Harold's eyes, a potentially horrifying waste of a scrumptious dinner).

As an adult, I really enjoyed reading about Bunnicula's introduction into the lives of Harold and Chester, and I'm sure kids will get a big kick out of the story as well. I must add one note of caution regarding this novel, however. One of Harold's favorite treats is chocolate, which we now know to be quite dangerous to dogs. Young children reading this book should be warned not to emulate the Monroes' habit of feeding Harold the tasty but fatal treat. Bunnicula is really a wonderful book, but there really should be some sort of warning label on it, for the sake of family dogs everywhere.

by Daniel Jolley
24 February 2007

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