cover image Bunnicula Strikes Again!

Bunnicula Strikes Again!

James Howe. Atheneum Books, $17.99 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81463-1

The Monroe animals prove themselves up to scratch in this sublimely silly Bunnicula caper (following Return to Howliday Inn). Newcomers will quickly catch on to the series' premise: Chester the cat has persuaded Harold, the mutt narrator cum author, and Howie, the dachshund puppy, that the Monroe boys' pet rabbit is really a vampire-just look at the way he drains vegetables of their juices. As this installment begins, Harold believes the household safe, and so he is unnerved by Chester's cryptic comment, ""Let's just say the matter is under control.... At last."" As usual with the Bunnicula books, the plot is less important than Howe's contagious amusement in telling his story. The tone drolly combines high diction and animal nature (e.g., in a note to ""his"" editor, Harold muses, ""Odd, that I, whose greatest ambition has always been the uninterrupted nap, should... find himself the semi-famous author of several books!""). The slyly observed dynamics of the cast act as a foil to the cheerfully loopy conceit. For example, the animals watch as the Monroe brothers fight: ""Pete retorted with a backhanded insult. Toby lobbed a high string of colorful adjectives capped by a perfectly executed oxymoron.... `And the match goes to Toby,' Chester commented. `Nice wordplay.'"" Howe's wordplay is better than nice, and the match goes to him-and to his readers. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)