Polly Horvath is a talented author, winner of both a Newbery and a Newbery Honor for two previous novels Everything on a Waffle, remains one of my favorites, named for the menu at Miss Bowzer's restaurant where young Primrose spends much of her time after both her parents disappear at sea. Primrose's quirkly observations about life on their Nova Scotian island and her dogged optimism that her parents have survived the storm made her a heroine that I loved introducing to young readers.
I hoped that I would like Mr. and Mrs. Bunny Detectives Extraordinaire as much, but I didn't. I
was drawn into the mystery and found both Horvath's typical wry commentary on human foibles and her unique humor evident throughout the book. But I wonder how much of that humor young readers would understand? And I doubt that readers older than fourth grade would even consider picking up the book. Yet I know that parents and children reading the book together would have a good time. Parts even remind me of Kate DiCamillo's stories.
Many successful children's stories have absent parents and this story is no exception. Young Madeline's parents are hippy hold-overs and really do not understand their well mannered daughter who has chosen to attend regular school. When she is slated to receive several honors at the fifth level graduation ceremony, they are unimpressed and certainly do not want to attend the event, especially after they find out that THE Prince Charles is making a special appearance. Madeline's disappointment is quickly forgotten when she finds her parents have disappeared. A small business card with some unusual writing, possibly in fox langauge, is the only clue she can find. Could they have been possibly kidnapped by foxes? Why? Could her great uncle, a famous decoder, help her solve the mystery? And when he slips into a coma after reading the card, to whom will the young girl turn for help? How about Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, who have just moved to their lovely bungalow and just decided that they'd like to buy fedoras and become detectives? Car driving foxes and rabbits, a conniving marmot, possible exploding bonnets, and kidnapped parents who will only eat vegan treats make this a far fetched but entertaining story. Unfortunately, I couldn't let myself be a youngster enthralled in the story. I kept finding myself thinking, "Well, I get this reference or commentary on society, but I doubt that a seven -nine year old would know this. And few kids older would be captivated by detective rabbits. Who really is the intended audience?
Final opinion is that Horvath remains a talented author and this book has potential for future bunny detective stories. After all, the book ends with Mr. and Mrs. Bunny building a hutch for their pet (friend) Madeline, and with parents like hers, Madeline is definitely going to need a place to escape to. Still I think, I will stick with recommending Everything on a Waffle.
I received an Advanced Readers Copy of Mr. and Mrs. Bunny Detectives Extraordinaire to review. The opinions I expressed are totally mine. I was not compensated for my review in any way.