cover image Harold & Chester in Creepy-Crawly Birthday

Harold & Chester in Creepy-Crawly Birthday

James Howe. HarperCollins Publishers, $13.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-09687-8

Headed by Chester the cat and Harold the dog, the Bunnicula gang returns in fine form in one of Howe's characteristically antic adventures. This time, Toby's birthday has arrived and the household pets are relegated to the cellar, to keep them away from a mysterious ``special'' present that consists of seven suitcases with a creature inside each. Demonstrating his powers of deduction (as celebrated as they are convoluted), Chester determines that Toby's parents have procured seven new pets and that Chester and company have, alas, become obsolete. While Bunnicula maintains his usual silence, Chester inveigles Harold and Howie the dachshund puppy into a hare-brained plot to convince Toby's family that they are pets without peer--and they succeed, although perhaps not as Chester intended. Throughout, Howe's lighthearted narrative balances humor with suspense, while the unusual clarity of Morrill's illustrations neatly contains the animals' chaotic capers. One can only wish for many happy returns. Ages 5-up . (Aug.)