Review: 'Bunnicula, A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery' by Deborah and James Howe
In the days before mobile phones and the Internet, people would have to have conversations with their pets to keep themselves from going insane. That's how it is with the Monroes, a nuclear family with two young children, two careers, and two pets: a cat (Chester) and a dog (Harold).
And every day, when the family members head out of the house, they leave their pets unsupervised to indulge in their vices. Chester reads horror stories; Harold daydreams about food. Life is perfect.
Until the day the Monroes go to a Dracula film, and come home with a little fluffy bundle of a rabbit in a shoebox full of dirt.
Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery is a classic children's book written by Deborah and James Howe. First published in 1979, I recall vividly growing up with either Bunnicula or one of its sequels being offered in the annual book-drives at my school. Alas, I was too poor to buy new books, and by the time that changed, I felt my reading level was much too high to bother with kids' stuff. Happily, I'm much less of a snob now!
This book is cute and endearing. Written from the point of view of the family dog, the story is sweet and innocent, even if one of the human boys is slowly poisoning the narrator with chocolate cupcakes. Harold only sees the positive in things. Chester's reaction to the new pet makes the dog feel concerned. The cat's just read too many horror stories!
Except... there's the problem of all the veggies in the house being drained of all their juices without the benefit of a Ronco food dehydrator...
This is a funny, whimsical tale with a well-composed plot and perfect internal logic. You won't believe it was written by a dog.
There are seven books in the Bunnicula series (the last one came out in 2006), plus a spin-off series, as well as a learning-to-read series of picture books. There was also an animated TV special produced by Ruby-Spears in 1982, and more recently, an animated series in 2016 that aired on Cartoon Network and on Boomerang. I haven't touched any of these yet.