A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
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.
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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.
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Products & Purchases
The Olde Spaghetti Factory is a popular dining destination. Other product brands are mentioned by name, such as Krazy Glue, KitchenAid, and SubZero, in describing various features of the Bunny world.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
While Madeline's parents aren't seen consuming drugs, there's little doubt that they've been in the habit of doing so, particularly as their initial response to their fox captors is to assume that they're a hallucination. A scene in which the Bunnys and Madeline ply the code-breaking marmot with Irish coffees ends badly.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.