A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the overall tone of Mr. and Mrs. Bunny -- Detectives Extraordinaire! is chaotic and irreverent. Its resourceful 10-year-old heroine, Madeline, is far more responsible for her hippie parents than they've ever been for her, and a pair of bunnies do an exemplary job of modeling mature adult values, ingenious problem solving, and generally saving the day, with a hefty dose of comedy on the side. The word "crap" is used a few times, there's the implication that Madeline's parents have used drugs, and a marmot gets drunk on Irish coffee.
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What's the story?
Ten-year-old Madeline appears to be the only one on Hornby Island, an enclave of American hippies in British Columbia, to have any practical sense whatever. Also, she's read Pride and Prejudice twice. When her feckless parents suddenly disappear, apparently kidnapped by foxes, Madeline's only assistance in finding and rescuing them comes in the form of a pair of rabbits who've just decided to go into the detective business. A code-breaking marmot, faux foxhounds, The Olde Spaghetti Factory, and Prince Charles all play a role in the ensuing hijinks.
Is it any good?
Polly Horvath has a long track record of wacky books, and some of the zaniness in this one, as well as the madcap plot, may be too much for some.
But the title characters and Madeline are very appealing -- as are Sophie Blackall's illustrations. And if there's an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink quality to some of the comic embellishments, there are also moments of enduring charm, sweetness, and triumph.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether Madeline's parents are actually abusive, as Mr. Bunny insists, or just endearingly useless. Why do you think she stays with them?
What do you know about Prince Charles, and what do you think about Madeline's conversation with him?
What do you know about the area around Vancouver Island and why Americans have migrated there, legally and otherwise, over the years?
Madeline tells her mom that she doesn't think it's very "green" of them to spend all the family's money on candles for a one-night solstice celebration. Do you agree?
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