|Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett and Matthew Myers|
|Category: Emerging Readers|
|Reviewer: Sam Tyler|
|Summary: We have all had rubbish presents in our time, but for one youngster the latest gift from his Granny is too much. With the use of a sharpened pencil and twisted imagination, Birthday Bunny changes to Battle Bunny. Witness the chaos and fun in this subversive children's book.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 40||Date: January 2015|
|Publisher: Walker Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Young children do not always have the best poker face so when they are given a gift they don’t really want, they may not spare your feelings. The little boy who received Birthday Bunny was seriously unimpressed, so much so that he has taken out his pencils and rewritten the story. Gone is the tale of a rabbit trying to work out if any of his animal friends have remembered his birthday and instead we get an epic battle of bunny versus the animal kingdom.
Battle Bunny is the type of children’s book that sounds great when discussing the concept, but is difficult to execute well. This is a story on top of another story. The original text is supposed to be an authentic-feeling 1950s style story of a Bunny visiting all of his forest friends. It is incredibly authentic – old fashioned and twee. However, this is only the canvas on which the real book exists.
Scieszka and Barnett tell the real story on top; both in written form, but also by creating the idea of a young naughty boy graffiti-ing his own book. The story of Battle Bunny is a far more explosive affair, a perversion of the original text as Bunny no longer wants to be a friend, but the master of all animal kind. Written in apparent pencil, the imaginary author scratches out much of the original text and instead writes their own story.
The most realistic part of the book and the most interesting is Matthew Myers’ illustrations. These are in the form of a blunt HB pencil and adorn the original illustrations as if scrawled upon by an angry young tyke. Think ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ and you get the idea. No longer is Bunny all fluffy and kind, now he has a flak helmet and a rocket launcher strapped to his back. As a child, I was prone to such flights of fantasy so the drawings ring true, if a little disturbingly.
At this point, personal opinion will come to the fore – do you like the idea of a book being ruined? Some readers with find the text amusing and subversive and, at times, it is. However, it is also a little anarchic. The book moves from the sweet to the violent. I have no particular issue with the dark sense of humour on show; some kids love the likes of Horrible Histories. What is an issue is the confused nature of the story. The original text may not be worth reading, but it is obscured at times, but used in others. There are two stories running at the same time and even as an adult reader I found the book a little confusing. In the end, both tales are left feeling underdone and you get the impression the book was always designed to be a gimmick.
There is a role for Battle Bunny to play. Its subversive outlook makes it a great alternative to use when encouraging youngsters 6-8 who find normal books boring. The authors and illustrator should also be praised for producing such a well-made book – it really does feel like a classic Ladybird style story that has been written on. However, the theory is perhaps ahead of the practice; it is a slightly confused read and is a little too in love with its own concept. Also the violence in the book is cartoon based, but of a high enough nature to give pause.
Some more subversive and funny writing can be found in the Horrible Histories series, including Awful Egyptians (Horrible Histories) by Terry Deary. For a book that breaks the third wall a little better than Battle Bunny, try Circle, Square, Moose by Kelly L Bingham and Paul O Zelinsky.
You can read more book reviews or buy Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett and Matthew Myers at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett and Matthew Myers at Amazon.com.
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