Monday, November 18, 2013

Battle Bunny

 Booklist starred (October 1, 2013 (Vol. 110, No. 3))

Grades K-5. This deliciously subversive piece of metafiction skewers—with a sharp wit and a sharper pencil—the earnest, purposeful literature so popular in the middle of the last century. The fun begins with a facsimile of something akin to an antique Little Golden Book, Birthday Bunny, complete with worn cover, yellowed pages, and wholesome message. But the book has been “improved” in story and pictures by a child named Alex wielding his trusty no. 2. The cover, retitled Battle Bunny, now features rockets, planes, bombs, and a general promise of mayhem. And Alex keeps that promise, transforming the insipid story of a sad bunny being cheered by his friends on his birthday into a raucous adventure wherein an evil bunny unleashes a tornado of destruction on the unsuspecting forest until the president is forced to call in one Agent Alex to save the day. Alex’s “edits,” including a complete reworking of the text and plenty of pictorial embellishments, are soaked in testosterone. The animals of the forest become luchadores and ninja warriors; Air Force One and a few presidents (Obama and Lincoln) make appearances; and just about everything explodes. In the end, Alex is victorious, Battle Bunny is vanquished, and the world is safe. At least until Alex and his pencil ride again . . .

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