Welcome to my blog. I often think I was born with a book in my hand. I have always enjoyed reading, but more importantly, talking about books. This blog is partially about reviews, but is really a forum to talk about what I'm reading, and express all of the thoughts and feelings that there simply isn't room for in a professional review. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on your favourite books as you follow my reading journey.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mr & Mrs. Bunny: A Fun, Whimsical Read

10-year-old Madeline is used to being the sensible one in her family, and taking care of things for her flighty, hippy parents. So when she comes home from school one day and discovers that they've gone missing, she knows what needs to be done. With the help of Mr. & Mrs. Bunny- a pair of fedora-wearing, rabbit detectives (whom she more or less stumbles upon), a garlic bread-loving marmot, and a host of other quirky characters, she sets out to find her parents, learning important lessons about friendship, family, and herself along the way.

Polly Horvath has long been one of my favourite authors, and her newest book exceeded my expectations. Madeline is a character that both adults and kids will enjoy. She's precocious without being obnoxious, and she's very clearly the grown-up in her family. It's not that her parents don't love her- they do, but they are very live-as-you-please sort of people, and have untraditional priorities. They are not the sort of parents who will come and watch her receive her school award, or be impressed that it's being given to her by the Prince of Whales, but getting a pair of white shoes for the event is important to Madeline, and she needs to get them to agree to give her the money. Madeline is thoughtful, wise, and always in charge, but she also demonstrates moments of vulnerability that remind you she actually is a child.

When some some foxes need the help of Madeline's Uncle Runyon (who just happens to be an expert decoder)  to decode a secret recipe for rabbit, they kidnap Madeline's parents in the hopes that they will lead them to him. Unfortunately, neither of them remember where he lives, which poses a problem for the foxes, but they decide to kidnap them anyway until they remember. The foxes really made me laugh. They are totally over-the-top villains, and it works perfectly for this story. They can speak, and write english (entirely self-taught), and they assume that humans are stupid and easily foiled.

Mr. & Mrs. Bunny, having only recently taken up detecting (all because of the fedoras), are immediately taken by Madeline, and offer to take her case. They also insist that she stay with them until they find her parents, and get the idea that they could possibly keep her as a pet. For the first time, Madeline gets a sense of what it's like to be taken care of, and she's really conflicted. On the one hand, she enjoys being parented, but on the other, she's so used to being the adult, she can't quite trust any adult- human or otherwise to be competent to handle anything.

The Bunny's are extremely entertaining, and adults in particular will appreciate the comical banter between them. Polly Horvath does comedy extremely well, and the satire is extremely clever. Some of the jokes might go over the heads of child readers, but there is plenty about this book that will endear it to them.

I am also a sucker for beautiful language, and this book certainly has that. More than a few times I paused reading to take in a particularly wonderful phrase. The author does not shy away from using sophisticated language, and I actually see this as a plus- not a negative. This is a perfect book for both reading aloud, and it should absolutely find a place on the shelf of every middle-grade reader.