Mr. and Mrs. Bunny — Detectives Extraordinaire!
by Polly Horvath
Review: After Madeline's parents are kidnapped by foxes, who are looking use them as leverage to enlist the aid of Madeline's Uncle Runyon, a "decoder", she turns to a pair of rabbits to help get them back in Mr. and Mrs. Bunny — Detectives Extraodinaire!, a story — fable? — written by Mrs. Bunny and translated from the Rabbit by Polly Horvath.
Madeline simply wants to attend her class graduation exercises, something her parents oppose. But she's determined. All she needs is a pair of white shoes. But on the longest day of the year, celebrated as the Festival of Luminara on her island east of Vancouver, she's dismayed to discover her parents missing, a ransom note taped to the refrigerator door. Her parents will be returned, unharmed, if Madeline convinces Uncle Runyon, an expert in cryptography, to decipher a collection of recipes by the greatest fox chef of all time, Fanny Fox's Canned Rabbit Products and by-Products Factory … unfortunately, all written in code by the late Fanny Fox.
Meanwhile, Mr. and Mrs. Bunny are downsizing. Their brood of 12 bunnies has all left home and they don't need that massive hutch any more. But Mrs. Bunny is more concerned about how she is going to spend all her free time.
"Mr. Bunny. I have had an idea!"
"Do tell," he said.
"I think we should become detectives."
"Yes. … Let's go buy fedoras."
Mr. Bunny grimaced. He suspected that many of Mrs. Bunny's sudden enthusiasms were just thinly disguised excuses to go shopping.
Decked out in newly purchased fedoras, Mr. and Mrs. Bunny made for a dashing pair of detectives. Now if only they had a client …
Mr. and Mrs. Bunny — Detectives Extraodinaire! is a decidedly odd book and not an altogether good one. And it is almost certainly not one for kids, its presumed intended audience. For starters, each animal species seems to be representing a culture or nationality. As such, stereotypes abound; there is no political correctness here. Humans — presumably representing Americans — are generally self-absorbed creatures, who make no effort to communicate with or understand the other species, i.e. the rest of the world. There are exceptions, of course, and in this case it is Madeline, the heroine of the story, someone who is considered by her peers, even her family, to be different and strange because she tries to be inclusive. Worse, she actually understands the other species, making her somehow a threat to civilization. Or something. It's all a bit muddled. Setting aside the sometimes offensive national stereotyping, there are numerous references to the 1960s — hallucinating hippies — and the 1970s — disco divas — and more from the past century that would likely go way over the heads of today's children. Too, the implied recreational use of illicit drugs by humans, i.e. Americans, seems completely inappropriate. The basic storyline is fine, and the result could have been, should have been charming had the author not tried so hard to create a modern Grimm's fairy tale, to interweave through it some moral or geopolitical or ethical message … and, quite frankly, it's not at all clear what the intended message actually is, so it seems like a pointless exercise in the end.
Mr. and Mrs. Bunny — Detectives Extraodinaire! has a Lexile measure of 730L and is recommended by the publisher for readers aged 8 to 12.
Acknowledgment: Random House provided a copy of Mr. and Mrs. Bunny — Detectives Extraordinaire! for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Mr. and Mrs. Bunny — Detectives Extraordinaire!: Vancouver, British Columbia
— ♦ —
Mr. and Mrs. Bunny — Detectives Extraordinaire! by Polly Horvath
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade
Publication Date: February 2012
List Price: $16.99
— ♦ —
Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
Mysterious Reviews is a Division of
The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books
and a Business Unit of the
Omnimystery Family of Mystery Websites