cover image Rabbit-Cadabra!


James Howe. HarperCollins, $15 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10402-3

The latest Bunnicula picture book sustains that series' well-known comedy-of-errors combination of slapstick and intrigue. Once again the other animals in the Monroe household suspect impending danger from the pet rabbit, Bunnicula, whom they are convinced is a vampire. This time, thanks to Chester the cat (who maintains his impervious air of omniscience by making up what he doesn't know), Harold the dog (our narrator) and Howie the dachshund puppy believe that Bunnicula is in league with a visiting magician. When they learn that The Amazing Karlovsky plans to pull Bunnicula out of a hat during a show at the local school, they are sure that a horde of vampire bunnies will be loosed upon the audience. Can unspeakable horror be averted? Howe garnishes his story with winsome puns and indulgent irony before he unveils the requisite logical explanation. Daniel, who illustrated two Bunnicula middle readers, contributes watercolor, gouache and colored-pencil art; his composition, lighting and perspectives are theatrically exaggerated, especially in comparison with Leslie Morrill's rather staid pictures for Howe's 1991 Creepy-Crawly Birthday . The piece de resistance: a pull-out magic trick, clearly explained and easily executed. Ages 5-up. (Apr.)