Thursday, July 16, 2009

First Clues, Mysteries for Kids: Bunnicula

Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery

A middle school teacher recently asked us if we were familiar with the Bunnicula series of mysteries for kids by James Howe. We had to admit we weren't, and apparently we were alone in this regard. Millions of books featuring this immensely popular character have been sold to date; we've just added all three of the Bunnicula series to our First Clues: Mysteries for Kids website.

In 1979, Deborah and James Howe published Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery to great acclaim. Since then, Bunnicula has made countless children laugh and carrots quake with terror.

It all begins when the Monroe family goes to see the movie Dracula. At the theater, youngest son Toby finds something on his seat -- a baby rabbit, which the family takes home and names Bunnicula. It proves to be an apt name, at least as far as Chester the cat is concerned. Well-read and observant, Chester soon decides that there is something odd about the newcomer. For one thing, he seems to have fangs. And the odd markings on his back look a bit like a cape. Furthermore, Bunnicula sleeps from sunup to sundown and is only awake at night. And then there are the vegetables ... the white vegetables.

Is Bunnicula really a vampire? Only Bunnicula knows for sure. But the story of Chester's suspicions and their consequences -- as told by his canine pal, Harold -- makes uproarious reading.

A critical and commercial success, Bunnicula was later adapted for an ABC Weekend Special on television and would go on to include 7 books in the original series. Deborah Howe, who co-wrote the first book with her husband James, died of cancer shortly after Bunnicula was published. James Howe continued to write the Bunnicula series, and the spin-offs, after her death.

The second book of the series, Howliday Inn, published in 1982, introduced a new character, Howie, a puppy, to the Monroe family. Twenty years later Howie got his own series, writing the Tales from the House of Bunnicula (but really written by James Howe).

In 2004, Howe reworked the original Bunnicula books into a series of picture books for beginning readers called Bunnicula and Friends. There are currently 6 titles in this series.

Bunnicula also appear in several other books published during the 1990s, including a pop-up adventure book and various activity books for kids.

Many thanks to school teacher Margo for introducing Bunnicula to us!

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1 comment:

  1. Although I'm a middle-school teacher, the books are really intended for elementary (3rd/4th) grade readers. Very fun books, though - especially for reluctant readers.

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