Mr. and Mrs. Bunny-Detectives Extraordinaire!

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny-Detectives Extraordinaire! illus. by Sophie Blackall. 248p. CIP. Random/Schwartz & Wade Bks. Feb. 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-375-86755-2; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-375-96755-9; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-0-375-89827-3. LC 2010024133.
Gr 3–5—Middle-grader Madeline lives with her hippie parents on a remote Canadian island. When she arrives home one day, they are missing; the only clue to their disappearance is a threatening note signed by "The Enemy." Meanwhile, world-famous rabbit chef Franny Fox has died. Because her recipes are all written in secret code, the plans to make millions by mass-producing and selling them to the Fox Community are all but foiled. The only one capable of decoding them is Madeline's Uncle Runyon. And the only people who know his whereabouts are Madeline's parents. Enter a gang of Fox kidnappers. Luckily, Mr. and Mrs. Bunny have decided to become detectives and take the case. With their help, Madeline's parents are rescued and the foxes' sinister plot is thwarted—at least for now. Horvath has created a delightful story about family, friendship, and living Green. Blackall's whimsical illustrations further enhance this tale's charm. Unfortunately, the intended audience is problematic. The satirical elements will doubtless fly over the heads of young children interested in stories featuring fedora-wearing, Smart Car-driving, rabbit detectives, and older readers might find it all a bit silly. Also, Madeline seems a bit too old for this type of fantasy. Still, some children will find something to appreciate in this multilevel story.—Alissa J. LeMerise, Oxford Public Library, MI
Her parents kidnapped by foxes, Madeline (human) engages the services of a couple of rabbit detectives. As the bunny-noir plot proceeds at breakneck speed, Horvath tucks in several levels of satire, some winks at children’s literature, and a profusion of non sequiturs that are, in themselves, worth the price of admission. Look not for logic; this is a romp.
Madeline, in the manner of many Horvathian heroines, has lost her parents. Turns out they have been kidnapped by trench-coated thugs. A capable girl, Madeline engages the services of a couple of detectives to aid in parental recovery. So much for sensible; bring on the absurd. The thugs are foxes; the detectives are rabbits; there's a code-breaking human uncle, but as he's in a coma there is also a code-breaking marmot; there's an impending visit from Prince Charles; Madeline turns out to be a bunny whisperer (which means she can understand and speak Bunny). As the bunny-noir plot proceeds at breakneck speed, Horvath (who takes no responsibility, styling herself a mere translator of a story written by Mrs. Bunny) tucks in several levels of satire (flaky island-dwelling hippies, complicated coffees, government bureaucracy, chain restaurants, the writing of novels); some winks at children's literature (Madeline, Pooh); and a profusion of non sequiturs that are, in themselves, worth the price of admission: "‘How you do run on and on,' said Mrs. Bunny dismissively while knitting winter underwear out of used dental floss. She had greatly reduced their carbon footprint that year doing this alone." Look not for logic; this is a romp. sarah ellis

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