Since it’s Halloween, I thought I’d talk about something frightening: Bunnies. Vampire bunnies. Ninja vampire bunnies. Okay, so, maybe not that ninja part. But definitely vampire bunnies—one in particular.
So, my roommate (Mr. “I’m not in there!” from the other week) was recently given a collection of young adult books as a birthday present. Most of the stack didn’t interest me, but I did notice one specific volume in the pile. I remember reading Bunnicula as a child, and it very well could have been my first genre fiction book ever. So, intrigued about how I would regard the experience as an adult, I sat down one evening to give the novel another read.
I came out of it with two impressions. First, that is one amazingly fun book. Second, that is one amazingly short book.
On the second point, it turns out that I’m older now—and I’m used to stories that take a little bit longer to tell. It’s pretty amazing how few words they managed to pack into so many pages. (It’s around a hundred, give or take, depending on your edition.) It’s short. It has chapters, true, but they’re. . .well, more like extended paragraphs. I was through the book before I knew what had happened.
Part of that, however, was due to sheer enjoyment. Often times, when I look back at things I enjoyed as a child, I find that I displayed an embarrassing lack of discerning taste. (G.I. Joe—or pretty much any cartoon I watched—makes a fine example.) Bunnicula, however, was a delightful read—both because of how fun it was, and because it proves that I at least had good taste in books when I was young. (Even if my TV habits were deplorable.)
Anyway, about the book itself. Aspiring writers, take note—there are a wealth of lessons to be learned from this humble story. First off, it has an interesting premise. A normal family discovers a mysterious pet bunny abandoned in a movie theater—a bunny that turns out to have belonged to Dracula, and how goes out during the night to hunt vegetables and drain their ‘blood.’ Amusing, perhaps a bit farcical—however, the authors manage to mix this potentially-ridiculous idea with some solid storytelling. The book is told from the viewpoint of the family’s pet dog, a creature with a healthy dose of personality and an interesting narrative style.
That means we have both a clever premise, a strong character, and a unique viewpoint. Mix with that a solid mystery plot—why are these white vegetables appearing around the house, and why does that bunny look so downright evil?—and you have a book that will hold its own against pretty much anything you throw at it. I know a lot of modern fantasy novels that could learn a few things from Bunnicula.
So, I recommend that you give the book a read, if you haven’t already. It’s fun, quick, and could probably teach you a few things. And, if you did read the book as a child, it might be an interesting experience to pick it up—like I did—and see how your childhood memories compare to your adult observations.