MUNCHA! MUNCHA! MUNCHA!

Candace Fleming, Author, G. Brian Karas, Illustrator , illus. by G. Brian Karas. Atheneum/Schwartz $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-689-83152-2

This onomatopoeic romp opens calmly, with a hopeful gardener planting a vegetable patch behind his brownstone house. Bright green leaves sprout from the rich soil. " 'Yum! Yum! Yummy!' said Mr. McGreeley. 'I'll soon fill my tummy with crisp, fresh veggies.' " He doesn't notice a cottontail trio watching expectantly from the garden wall. "And the sun went down. And the moon came up. And—/ Tippy-tippy-tippy, Pat!/ Spring-hurdle,/ Dash! Dash! Dash!/ Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!" The brazen "twitch-whiskers" hop and dig their way to a fresh-picked salad, and Mr. McGreeley awakens to a row of gnawed stems. Karas (Saving Sweetness), who works in chalky gray pencil with brick-red, kale-green and creamy-yellow gouache, pictures the bunnies waiting patiently as the incensed Mr. McGreeley builds a wire fence, a moat and an enormous cinderblock tower with searchlights. Fleming (Gabriella's Song) demonstrates an ear for language as the suburban farmer battles his furry foes, night after night. The ritual culminates in the "gotcha" finale, in which the rabbits seem defeated, only to burst into view with a vigorous repeat of the title. Fleming and Karas demonstrate great comic timing in this high-spirited tale of one-upmanship. Ages 3-7. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/10/2001
Release date: 01/01/2002
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