Book Title: The Celery Stalks at Midnight
Writer: James Howe
Illustrator: Leslie Morrill
Release Date: 1983
When Bunnicula disappears from his cage, Chester thinks his nefarious plan has finally been launched. When white vegetables begin to show up all over the neighborhood, Chester tries to convince Harold and Howie that the vegetables are the first step of Bunnicula’s army…and Bunnicula and his vegetables must be stopped!
I loved Bunnicula but fell out of love with the series with its follow-up Howliday Inn which ditched horror for a murder mystery. With The Celery Stalks at Midnight, Howe returned to the formula of Bunnicula, but I had already outgrown the series.
I wasn’t a big mystery fan when Howliday Inn was released and as a kid, preferred horror and monsters. The Celery Stalked at Midnight brought back the whole vampire aspect of the first book. The book felt like a continuation of Bunnicula which was a plus, but I always read series as series and getting to The Celery Stalked at Midnight meant going through Howliday Inn…overall, The Celery Stalks at Midnight also feels like rehash.
I won’t say that the series isn’t entirely unimaginative. The idea of staking vegetables with toothpicks (and having them look like hors d’oeuvres is funny) and it was good to see Max again from Howliday Inn. The whole end sequence involving the play and the town of “vampires” is the type of stuff that you can enjoy as a kid. It is over-the-top and as an adult you can see the clues coming a mile away, but for younger readers who are experiencing horror and mystery for the first time, it is a good introduction to the genre.
I will give The Celery Stalks at Midnight is a great title for the novel with the clever pun. The book itself will please Bunnicula fans but feels like more of the same. The book however is for children and most children won’t find this problematic since many titles written for kids are rehashed (especially in serialized books). As a kid it was hard to find “horror” books, and the Bunnicula series at least provided a fun outlet for that. The Celery Stalks at Midnight was followed by Nighty-Nightmare in 1987 (which is also sometimes known as The Return of Bunnicula).