Translated from the Rabbit by Polly Horvath.
This particular book is a tricksy one. I was expecting talking animals, something along the lines of Rabbit Hill or maybe Charlotte’s Web, and I got a hilarious tale about a couple of ridiculous, bickering, married rabbits who “adopt” the neglected daughter of leftover hippy parents who are, in turn, kidnapped by foxes.
Madeline is the girl, and she is a sort of Alice in Wonderland character, a very responsible daughter who takes care of her less-than-brainy parents and finds herself in a fantastical predicament. When said parents, Mildred and Flo, are kidnapped by some nefarious foxes who say MUAHAHA a lot, Madeline must find and rescue them. But the only help she can get is from Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, who have just bought fedoras and are attempting to solve their first case as amateur detectives.
The resulting mis-adventure is a lovely romp through Rabbit-land and the woods and valleys of Vancouver Island, British Columbia with several running gags. There are repeated references to learning languages and communication difficulties as Flo tries to learn fox language from his captors, and Madeline decides she’s a Bunny Whisperer because she understands rabbit. Mr. and Mrs. Bunny compete with one another for who can be the most clueless, aimless, and scatterbrained detective in Rabbit-land. Then, there’s The Marmot, whose first name is The, and who has a passion for garlic bread. The Marmot is even more foolish and brainless than Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, Flo and Mildred and all the foxes put together.
I think with humor and comedy you always run the risk that some of your readers just won’t get the joke or won’t have the same sense of humor that you do. I saw some reviews at Amazon that criticized this book for using the word “crap” and for making fun of New Agers and the British royal family, among others. (Prince Charles does make a cameo appearance in the final chapters, and he comes off rather well as a reassuring adult character, actually.) All I can say is that this story tickled my funny bone in just the right places, and I was only sorry to see it end.