This evening I finally had a chance to start reading Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire! by Mrs. Bunny and translated from the Rabbit by Polly Horvath. My first plan was to read The Georges and the Jewels by Jane Smiley, which I’ve been itching to read for a long time, but when I opened my library copy it looked as if someone had peed on the lower right corner of the pages. Ick. Guess I’ll be ordering a new copy for the library tomorrow…
At any rate, I was equally excited to read Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, and my plan was to preview it to see if it would be appropriate for the third grade book group. Not that I personally believe that children’s literature has to be all cute and fluffy, but I have found that for the books I choose to read with my younger book groups, cute and fluffy is a good path to take, considering the variety of readers in any book group. Mr. and Mrs. Bunny seemed like it would fit the bill.
But I was pleasantly surprised to find that Mrs. Bunny has written a book with some bite to it – humor that appeals to me, and surely will appeal to a lot of kids who are older than third grade. Mr. and Mrs. Bunny engage in some wonderful spousal repartee, such as their animated conversation after Mr. Bunny comes home with the news that he has bought a new hutch for them without Mrs. Bunny’s input. Mrs. Bunny ends up with her head down on the table, then comes this lovely exchange:
“Mrs. Bunny, I am sure you are only hungry. Once you have a little carrot stew in you, this mood of yours will pass in a trice.”
“DON’T TELL ME ABOUT MY MOODS!” began Mrs. Bunny, and that is when Mr. Bunny, in one of his few smart moves that day, pulled out the picture of the hutch and shoved it in her face.
“SEE?” said Mr. Bunny, a trifle hysterically. “SEE?” (pages 18 – 19)
And, of course, the hutch is beautiful and perfect and just what Mrs. Bunny would have picked herself. And I realized that I was holding a book that is far, far better than I had expected – and I’m hooked. It’s not for my third grade book group, but that’s ok. I’ll use it with one of my older book groups, kids who have enough life experience to “get” the wry humor, and I’ll be sure to put it into the hands of those library kids who like the quirky and fun and unusual, with a little dash of gory (did I mention that there are foxes who kidnap and are looking to open a canned rabbit products plant? and that the foxes like to say and write “Mwa-haha”?). Ah, how I do love a book that’s unexpectedly much better than I thought it would be – especially when I thought it would be pretty good.