Monday, September 26, 2016

Lord and Lady Bunny: Almost Royalty by Polly Horvath

Source of book: Audiobook from the library

It was last year that the kids introduced me to Polly Horvath and the bizarre world of Mr. and Mrs. Bunny. Since then, we have listened to a few different books, some delightful, and one not so much.  They have been lobbying me to get the second book in the series, so we did so for our Utah adventure.

The world the Bunnies inhabit is one in which humans and animals rarely interact, but the animals are sentient and can use modern technology. It doesn’t make total sense, but that is part of the point. 

In this sequel, young Madeleine is back, along with her clueless hippie parents, Flo and Mildred (not their real names, which are so boring I can’t recall them.) Madeleine wants nothing more than to start a college fund (which her new upper-middle-class friend insists is necessary), but has little hope of doing so with help from her perpetually broke and incompetent parents. But then, a distant relative in England dies, leaving them a candy shop in a small town, as long as they are willing to leave immediately to run it.

At the same time, Mrs. Bunny is dissatisfied with her life, and wants adventure. Well, more specifically, she wants to be queen for reasons that neither she nor the long-suffering Mr. Bunny can quite figure out. So, it’s off to England. Can Flo and Mildred hold it together long enough to make a profit, despite their aversion to filthy lucre? Can Mrs. Bunny attain her dream of being made royalty? Or will the insufferable Mrs. Treaclebunny and her aristocratic hedgehog relative be able to gloat at their failures? And maybe Mr. Bunny really should just run off and play King Lear in a travelling Shakespeare production. All he needs is one of those masculine carrying pouch things.

This book is a bit different from the previous one in that it doesn’t involve a mystery - and nobody is kidnapped by foxes. There are also too few marmots, unfortunately. On the other hand, it is hard to tire of Flo’s perpetual, “Woah, that’s heavy, man!” and the witty jokes that older kids and grownups can find scattered throughout are well done. One recurring gag that I liked was the fact that in England, everyone blames the faux pas of the human and rabbit characters on them being “Americans.” Except that they are Canadian. One wonders if the Canadian author has had to explain the difference a few thousand too many times.

Look for some celebrity appearances too. The queen, of course, and Prince Charles, who appeared in the last book too. But also J. K. Rowling, and Horvath herself as the “translator” of the Mr. and Mrs. Bunny books.

As in the previous book, Horvath credits “Mrs. Bunny” as the author, and herself as the translator. In the audiobook version, Mrs. Bunny is the ostensible narrator as well, with some interesting vocal quirks. Throw in the disputes between Mr. and Mrs. Bunny as to who contributed what to the book, and there is a certain amount of uncertainty as to exactly how the two of them managed to put a story together in the first place.

As usual, the book is rather on the bizarre side, and doesn’t really resemble any recognizable genre. Horvath is at her best when she remains on the humorous rather than the serious side.

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