Mr. and Mrs. Bunny -- Detectives Extraordinaire! Book Poster Image

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny -- Detectives Extraordinaire!

(i)

 

Wacky, charming tale of girl and bunnies to the rescue.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Most of the educational bits will come flying rapidly at young readers in the form of interesting embellishments, such as the mention of Pride and Prejudice (quite possibly the first time most 8-year-olds will have heard of that classic Jane Austen book). And Madeline's parents try to impress their fox captors by speaking elementary French and German to to them. The notion of sending coded messages comes up, which may lead kids to explore how that's done.

Positive messages

Resourcefulness, perseverance, and bravery see Madeline and the Bunnys through many a crisis. Madeline is an excellent student, despite parents who don't care about that kind of thing a bit, and she ultimately finds great satisfaction in this.

Positive role models

Ten-year-old Madeline and the Bunnys are, in essence, the only responsible adults among the major characters. Madeline appears to have been caring for her parents all her life, supplementing the family income with waitressing when their lifestyle fails to support them, and deciding for herself to go to a real school instead of settling for free-form homeschool like the rest of the island's children. The Bunnys, who startle Madeline by being the first ones to ever take care of her and seem like the parents she should have had, focus on helping her rescue the parents she's got.

Violence & scariness

The foxes who kidnap Madeline's parents make no secret (amid much broad comedy and licking of their chops) of how much they're going to enjoy devouring their captives. The underlying reason for this mayhem is their plan to build a factory to process rabbit byproducts, which causes terror in the Bunny community. Mr. Bunny warns Madeline not to reveal that she's able to converse with animals because he says people will throw her in a cage and do horrible things to her in the name of "research," as he's seen happen to many bunnies.

Language

The word "crap" comes up several times. There's also a bit of bathroom humor as a crucial document is used for toilet paper by a drunken marmot.

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?

QUALITY

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.

Families can talk 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?

Book details

Author:Polly Horvath
Illustrator:Sophie Blackall
Genre:Humor
Topics:Adventures, Wild animals
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Schwartz & Wade
Publication date:February 14, 2012
Number of pages:256
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12

This review of Mr. and Mrs. Bunny -- Detectives Extraordinaire! was written by

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Educator and Parent of a 3, 5, and 7 year old Written byChristy4 August 22, 2012

better for middle school/junior high than elementary

I read this to my seven year old daughter and she was too young to get much of the humor, though she found the story entertaining enough. You need some context of hippie/pagan culture and American pop culture to get many of the jokes, so I had to do a lot of explaining. Also, the idea of totally worthless parents was more horrifying and inconceivable to her than humorous. I personally found the book to be pretty weird. I would imagine the tongue-in-cheek, spoof-type humor would appeal to middle school and junior high students. It would be over the head of most elementary students though, and as an adult I found it too goofy.
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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