Saturday, April 27, 2013

Reader's Diary #993- James Howe: The Celery Stalks at Midnight

My son and I are pushing right along with the Bunnicula series, just having completed book #3: The Celery Stalks at Midnight. In this installment, Bunnicula is thankfully at the center once again, sort of, since he was practically irrelevant in the last book, Howliday Inn. I say "sort of" since Bunnicula doesn't actually do much. He doesn't talk and doesn't drive any of the plot forward. Though Bunnicula has his name on the series (thanks to the success of the 1st book) and though they are narrated by a dog named Harold, the protagonist is arguably his friend Chester the cat. Chester, an avid reader and a suspicious type, drives the action forward with his overactive imagination.

In The Celery Stalks at Midnight, Chester revisits the folklore and learns about vampires that enlist their victims to do their evil bidding. While Bunnicula himself has yet to claim a victim of the non-vegetable variety, Chester begins to fear that those vegetables in turn might attack. He convinces Harold and Howie (a dachshund puppy added in the last book) to help him round up all the white veggies (whose juice Bunnicula has sucked dry) and spear them through their "hearts" with toothpicks (in place of proper stakes).

I love that Howe doesn't dumb down the books. While still very much aimed at a younger audience, he still makes references to people like Thoreau. He uses words like enterprise and palpitations. Would a child understand all of it? Probably not, but there's enough humour and action between to definitely keep them interested, and if they happen to learn something along the way, great. (But not necessary!)

Next up: Nighty Nightmare.

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