Book Title: Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery
Publisher: Atheneum Books
Writer: James Howe/Deborah Howe
Illustrations: Alan Daniel
Release Date: April 1979
When the Monroes find a small bundle at the theater, they discover it is a baby rabbit. Named Bunnicula due to the fact they were seeing Dracula, the Monroes bring Bunnicula home. While their dog Harry takes a liking to Bunnicula, their cat Chester suspects something is wrong with Bunnicula. When the Monroe’s vegetables begin to appear drained of juice, Chester suspects Bunnicula is a vampire…and the Monroes might be his first step on the path to world domination!
Written by Deborah and James Howe, Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery is a children’s horror parody with illustrations by Alan Daniel. Deborah Howe died of cancer before the book’s release. The book was well received by critics and became a children’s classic over the years. The story was adapted in 1982 for the ABC Weekend Special and a 2016 series was released on Boomerang.
I was first introduced to Bunnicula in the ABC Weekend Special. I later picked up both Bunnicula and its sequel at a fall book sale as a kid. Though I did love and read Bunnicula multiple times, I had a harder time getting into the sequels.
Bunnicula is a fun story that all the elements that kids like. It has dogs, cats, rabbits…and as in most kids’ novels, the animals are smarter than the adults around them. Even as a kid, this was a little frustrating for me. While it is plainly obvious that Bunnicula is a vegetable drinking vampire, no one seems to see it except Chester who is treated like a madman…it really bothered me that he was right and no one would listen.
As a kid, I also liked the illustrations for the novel. They were pretty simplistic and black-and-white but as a kid, you always yearned for a picture or two to break-up the story. Plus, it always gets you reading forward to get to the illustrations.
Bunnicula was a fun short novel for kids and perfect for an October read when you were growing up. I remember (pre-internet) thinking that James Howe and Deborah Howe must have gotten a divorce between Bunnicula and the sequel and it was years before I knew that Deborah Howe never even got to see her book become a success…it is a bit tragic, but the book’s endearing success does provide a legacy. Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery was followed by Howliday Inn in 1982.