________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 29. . . .March 30, 2012


Mr. and Mrs. Bunny - Detectives Extraordinaire!

Polly Horvath. Illustrated by Sophie Blackall.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood books/House of Anansi Press, 2012.
248 pp., trade pbk., $14.95.
ISBN 978-1-55498-180-9.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

***½ /4



"Mr. Bunny, I have had an idea!" Mr . and Mrs. Bunny were sitting in the back garden of their new house, enjoying the fine summer morning and watching the smoke rise from some fire on the horizon.

"Do tell," he said.

"I think we should become detectives."

"That's it?"


"What about my job with the carrot marketing board?"


"And your job collecting lint and creating art from it?"

"That is not a job that is a calling. But to heck with it. Let's go buy fedoras."

Mr. Bunny grimaced. He suspected that many of Mrs. Bunny's sudden enthusiasms were just thinly disguised excuses to go shopping…"

"Detective licenses?"

"I think fedoras are enough. Anyone who sees a bunny in a fedora will not feel the need to see a license."


Polly Horvath's latest book features 12-year-old Madeline, a practical, super-responsible girl who has the misfortune to be the offspring of totally impractical and nearly irresponsible parents. The hippy pair had started off in San Francisco, migrated north and settled down to making a living by playing music and making jewelry on Hornby Island. In eschewing home-schooling (even though she must get up at 5 am, take two ferries and a bus to get to a real school) it appears that daughter Madeline has fallen a long way from the parental tree:

As nature so often has it, they had a child who did not want to join them in their all-day pursuit of enlightenment and a better mung bean. Instead she became very good at cooking and cleaning and sewing and bookkeeping and minor household repairs.

     Mr. and Mrs. Bunny - Detectives Extraordinaire! is a wonderfully funny book which manages to satirize almost every new age value dear to the folks living on Hornby. Horvath's plot moves at a dizzying pace, beginning with the mysterious disappearance of Madeline's parents and a mysterious note on the fridge signed "The Enemy." Could the kidnappers really be a gang of foxes? And why are they so desperate to find Madeline's Uncle Runyon, a renowned Canadian decoder scientist? Answers to the above questions (and many more) are revealed as the race to find the missing parents picks up steam. A chance meeting of Madeline (who fortunately has the gift of understanding and speaking animal languages) with Mr. and Mrs. Bunny occurs, thereby enabling the newly minted fedora-wearing rabbit detectives to take over the investigation. What follows will not disappoint fans of Polly Horvath. Adult readers will find much to chuckle, and even to laugh out loud about as they read Mr. and Mrs. Bunny - Detectives Extraordinaire! The cover, featuring the author of the book as "Mrs. Bunny" and the work "translated from the Rabbit by Polly Horvath" gives readers a fair warning as to the absurd literary ramble that they are in for. Although the book is suggested as suitable for ages 8 to 12, the author's sly, sophisticated wit may provide more enjoyment if it is shared with an adult reader. Sophie Blackall's simple black and white drawings convey the tone of Horvath's rollicking slap-stick text perfectly.

      Mr. and Mrs. Bunny - Detectives Extraordinaire! will be a hit with many and a miss with some, as might be expected, since as the author has pointed out, she makes no assumptions about her audience and further, that the idea of "reading in one's age" slot is bunk. With an enthusiastic teacher or librarian, the novel should make a first-class read-aloud for students from upper elementary through grade 7.

Highly Recommended.

A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen resides in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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