Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery

( 181 )

Overview

Beware the Hare! Is he or isn't he a vampire?

Before it's too late. Harold the dog and Chester the cat must find out the truth about newest pet in the Monroe household—a suspicious-looking bunny with unusual habits...and fangs!

Though scoffed at by Harold the dog, Chester the cat tries to warn his human family that their foundling baby bunny must be a vampire.

...
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Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery

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Overview

Beware the Hare! Is he or isn't he a vampire?

Before it's too late. Harold the dog and Chester the cat must find out the truth about newest pet in the Monroe household—a suspicious-looking bunny with unusual habits...and fangs!

Though scoffed at by Harold the dog, Chester the cat tries to warn his human family that their foundling baby bunny must be a vampire.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Leading a trio of titles with milestone celebrations, Bunnicula 25th Anniversary Edition by Deborah and James Howe, illus. by Alan Daniel, boasts a new foreword by James Howe to commemorate the 1979 publication of the tale starring a rabbit suspected of vegetable vampirism, narrated by the family dog. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-6-It has been 20 years since Deborah and James Howe wrote Bunnicula (Atheneum, 1979), and what better way to celebrate than this new unabridged recording read by actor Victor Garber (Titanic, Sleepless in Seattle). Garber gives an educated dignity to Harold, the Monroe family dog. His voice inflections and accent changes to clearly define each character as he calmly relates the story. This is a straight reading of the text, without musical interruptions or sound effects. Each cassette side ends in silence with no direction to turn over or forward the tape. Harold relates the story of how the Monroes find a rabbit at a showing of Dracula. They bring the bunny home and name him Bunnicula. Chester, the cat, soon suspects that Bunnicula is a vampire rabbit and takes it upon himself to rid the house of the cursed bunny. With the reluctant help of Harold ,they torture the rabbit with garlic, and unsuccessfully attempt to pound a raw steak through Bunnicula's heart. In the end, it is up to Harold to save Bunnicula and calm the nerves of Chester. Bunnicula is a classic that shows no signs of becoming dated. The recording included a touching afterward by James Howe who relates how his late wife Deborah came to create this story, and to finish it despite her battle with cancer. A must for any library lacking in the bunny occult.-Todd Dunkelberg, Deschutes Public Library System, OR Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Bunnicula is the kind of story that does not age, and in all probability, will never die. Or stay dead, anyway..."
— Neil Gaiman

"The most lovable vampire of all time."
— J. Gordon Melton, author of The Vampire Book

"Move over, Dracula! This mystery-comedy is sure to delight."
New York Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689307003
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 3/28/1979
  • Series: Bunnicula and Friends Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 230,328
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 700L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

James Howe is the author of more than ninety books for young readers, including the modern classic Bunnicula and its highly popular sequels. In 2001, Howe published The Misfits, the story of four outcast seventh-graders who try to end name-calling in their school. The Misfits is now widely read and studied in middle schools throughout the country, and was the inspiration for the national movement known as No Name-Calling Week (NoNameCallingWeek.org), an event observed by thousands of middle and elementary schools annually. There are three companion novels to The Misfits: Totally Joe (2005), Addie on the Inside (2011), and Also Known as Elvis (2014). Howe’s many other books for children from preschool through teens frequently deal with the acceptance of difference and being true to oneself. Visit him online at JamesHowe.com.

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Read an Excerpt

The little bunny had begun to move for the first time since he had been put in his cage. He lifted his tiny nose and inhaled deeply, as if gathering sustenance from the moonlight.

"He slicked his ears back close to his body, and for the first time," Chester said, "I noticed the peculiar marking on his forehead. What had seemed an ordinary black spot between his ears took on a strange v-shape, which connected with the big black patch that covered his back and each side of his neck. It looked as if he was wearing a coat . . . no, more like a cape than a coat."

Through the silence had drifted the strains of a remote and exotic music.

"I could have sworn it was a gypsy violin," Chester told me. "I thought perhaps a caravan was passing by, so I ran to the window."

I remembered my mother telling me something about caravans when I was a puppy. But for the life of me, I couldn't remember what.

"What's a caravan?" I asked, feeling a little stupid.

"A caravan is a band of gypsies traveling through the forest in their wagons," Chester answered.

"Ah, yes." It was coming back to me now. "Station wagons?"

"No, covered wagons! The gypsies travel all through the land, setting up camps around great bonfires, doing magical tricks, and sometimes, if you cross their palms with a piece of silver, they'll tell your fortune."

"You mean if I gave them a fork, they'd tell my fortune?" I asked, breathlessly.

Chester looked at me with disdain. "Save your silverware," he said, "it wasn't a caravan after all."

I was disappointed. "What was it?" I asked.

Chester explained that when he looked out the window, he saw Professor Mickelwhite, our next door neighbor, playing the violin in his living room. He listened for a few moments to the haunting melody and sighed with relief. I've really got to stop reading these horror stories late at night, he thought, it's beginning to affect my mind. He yawned and turned to go back to his chair and get some sleep. As he turned, however, he was startled by what he saw.

There in the moonlight, as the music filtered through the air, sat the bunny, his eyes intense and staring, an unearthly aura about them.

"Now, this is the part you won't believe," Chester said to me, "but as I watched, his lips parted in a hideous smile, and where a rabbit's buck teeth should have been, two little pointed fangs glistened."

I wasn't sure what to make of Chester's story, but the way he told it, it set my hair on end.

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First Chapter

Chapter One

I shall never forget the first time I laid these now tired old eyes on our visitor. I had been left home by the family with the admonition to take care of the house until they returned. That's something they always say to me when they go out: "Take care of the house, Harold. You're the watchdog." I think it's their way of making up for not taking me with them. As if I wanted to go anyway. You can't lie down at the movies and still see the screen. And people think you're being impolite if you fall asleep and start to snore, or scratch yourself in public. No thank you, I'd rather be stretched out on my favorite rug in front of a nice, whistling radiator.

But I digress. I was talking about that first night. Well, it was cold, the rain was pelting the windows, the wind was howling, and it felt pretty good to be indoors. I was lying on the rug with my head on my paws just staring absently at the front door. My friend Chester was curled up on the brown velvet armchair, which years ago he'd staked out as his own. I saw that once again he'd covered the whole seat with his cat hair, and I chuckled to myself, picturing the scene tomorrow. (Next to grasshoppers, there is nothing that frightens Chester more than the vacuum cleaner.)

In the midst of this reverie, I heard a car pull into the driveway. I didn't even bother to get up and see who it was. I knew it had to be my family -- the Monroes -- since it was just about time for the movie to be over. After a moment, the front door flew open. There they stood in the doorway: Toby and Pete and Mom and Dad Monroe. There was a flash of lightning, and in its glare I noticed that Mr. Monroe was carrying a little bundle -- a bundle with tiny glistening eyes.

Pete and Toby bounded into the room, both talking at the top of their lungs. Toby shouted, "Put him over here, Dad."

"Take your boots off. You're soaking wet," replied his mother, somewhat calmly I thought, under the circumstances.

"But Mom, what about the -- "

"First, stop dripping on the carpet."

"Would somebody like to take this?" asked Mr. Monroe, indicating the bundle with the eyes. "I'd like to remove my coat."

"I will," Pete yelled.

"No, I will," said Toby "I found him."

"You'll drop him."

"I will not."

"You will too."

"Mom, Pete punched me!"

"I'll take him," said Mrs. Monroe. "Take off your coats this minute!" But she became so involved in helping the boys out of their coats that she didn't take him at all.

My tranquil evening had been destroyed and no one had even said hello to me. I whimpered to remind them that I was there.

"Harold!" cried Toby, "guess what happened to me." And then, all over again, everyone started talking at once.

At this point, I feel I must explain something. In our family, everyone treats everyone else with great respect for his or her intelligence. That goes for the animals as well as the people. Everything that happens to them is explained to us. It's never been just "Good boy, Harold," or "Use the litter box, Chester" at our house. Oh no, with us it's "Hey Harold, Dad got a raise and now we're in a higher tax bracket," or "Come sit on the bed, Chester, and watch this Wild Kingdom show. Maybe you'll see a relative." Which shows just how thoughtful they are. But after all, Mr. Monroe is a college professor and Mrs. Monroe is a lawyer, so we think of it as a rather special household. And we are, therefore, rather special pets. So it wasn't at all surprising to me that they took the time to explain the strange circumstances surrounding the arrival of the little bundle with the glistening eyes now among us.

It seems that they had arrived at the theater late, and rather than trip over the feet of the audience already seated, they decided to sit in the last row, which was empty. They tiptoed in and sat down very quietly, so they wouldn't disturb anyone. Suddenly, Toby, who's the little one, sprang up from his chair and squealed that he had sat on something. Mr. Monroe told him to stop making a fuss and move to another seat, but in an unusual display of independence, Toby said he wanted to see just what it was he had sat on. An usher came over to their row to shush them, and Mr. Monroe borrowed his flashlight. What they found on Toby's chair was the little blanketed bundle that was now sitting on Mr. Monroe's lap.

They now unwrapped the blanket, and there in the center was a tiny black and white rabbit, sitting in a shoebox filled with dirt. A piece of paper had been tied to his neck with a ribbon. There were words on the paper, but the Monroes were unable to decipher them because they were in a totally unfamiliar language. I moved closer for a better look.

Now, most people might call me a mongrel, but I have some pretty fancy bloodlines running through these veins and Russian wolfhound happens to be one of them. Because my family got around a lot, I was able to recognize the language as an obscure dialect of the Carpathian Mountain region. Roughly translated, it read, "Take good care of my baby." But I couldn't tell if it was a note from a bereaved mother or a piece of Roumanian sheet music.

The little guy was shivering from fear and cold. It was decided that Mr. Monroe and the boys would make a house for him out of an old crate and some heavy-duty wire mesh from the garage. For the night, the boys would make a bed for him in the shoebox. Toby and Pete ran outside to find the crate, and Mrs. Monroe went to the kitchen to get him some milk and lettuce. Mr. Monroe sat down, a dazed expression in his eyes, as if he were wondering how he came to be sitting in his own living room in a wet raincoat with a strange bunny on his lap.

I signaled to Chester and the two of us casually moseyed over to a corner of the room. We looked at each other.

"Well, what do you think?" I asked.

"I don't think rabbits like milk," he answered.


Chester and I were unable to continue our conversation because a deafening crash commanded our attention.

Pete yelled from the hallway: "Maaa! Toby broke the rabbit's house!"

"I didn't, I just dropped it. Pete won't let me carry it."

"It's too big. Toby's too little."

"I am not!"

"You are too!"

"Okay, fellas," Mrs. Monroe called out as she entered with the milk and lettuce. "Let's try to get it in here with as little hysteria as possible, please."

Chester turned to me and said under his breath, "That lettuce looks repulsive, but if there's any milk left, I get it." I certainly wasn't going to argue with him. I'm a water man myself.

At that moment, the crate arrived, barely standing the strain of being pulled in two directions at once.

"Ma, Toby says he's going to keep the rabbit in his room. That's not fair. Harold sleeps in his room."

Only sometimes, I thought, when I know he's got a leftover ham sandwich in his drawer. Toby's a nice kid, don't get me wrong, but it doesn't hurt that he shares his stash with me. It was, after all, at one of those late night parties in Toby's room that I first developed my taste for chocolate cake. And Toby, noting my preference, has kept me in chocolate cake ever since. Pete, on the other hand, doesn't believe in sharing. And the only time I tried to sleep on his bed, he rolled over on me and pinned me by my ears so that I couldn't move for the rest of the night. I had a crick in my neck for days.

"But he's mine," Toby said. "I found him."

"You sat on him, you mean!"

"I found him, and he's sleeping in my room."

"You can keep smelly ol' Harold in your room, and Chester too, if you want to, but I'm going to keep the rabbit in mine."

Smelly ol' Harold! I would have bitten his ankle, but I knew he hadn't changed his socks for a week. Smelly, indeed!

Mr. Monroe spoke up. "I think the best place for the rabbit is right here in the living room on that table by the window. It's light there, and he'll get lots of fresh air."

"Pete's taller than I am," Toby cried. "He'll be able to see the rabbit better."

"Too bad, squirt."

"Okay," said Mrs. Monroe through clenched teeth, "let's put him to bed and make him comfortable, and then we can all get some sleep."

"Why?" Pete asked. "I don't want to go to sleep."

Mrs. Monroe smiled a little too sweetly at Pete.

"Look, Ma," said Toby, "he's not drinking his milk."

Chester nudged me in the ribs. "Didn't I tell you?" he asked. "Excuse me while I make myself available."

"Hey," said Toby, "we gotta name him."

"Can't that wait until tomorrow?" asked Mr. Monroe.

The boys shouted in unison: "No! He has to have a name right now." I have to say I agreed with them. It took them three days to name me, and those were the three most anxious days of my life. I couldn't sleep at all, worrying that they were really going to call me Fluffy as Mrs. Monroe had suggested.

"Well, all right," sighed Mrs. Monroe, "what about...oh, say...Bun-Bun?"

Oh, oh. There she goes again, I thought. Where does she get them?

"Yech!" we all said.

"Well, then, how about Fluffy?" she offered hopefully.

Pete looked at his mother and smiled. "You never give up, do you, Ma?"

Meanwhile, Chester (who had also been named Fluffy for a short time) was rubbing against Mrs. Monroe's ankles and purring loudly.

"No, Chester, not now," she said, pushing him aside.

"He wants to help us name him, don't you Chester?" Toby asked, as he scooped him up into his arms. Chester shot me a look. I could tell this was not what he had in mind.

"Come on, Harold," Toby called, "you've got to help with the name, too."

I joined the family and serious thinking began. We all peered into the box. It was the first time I had really seen him. So, this is a rabbit, I thought. He sort of looks like Chester, only he's got longer ears and a shorter tail. And a motor in his nose.

"Well," said Pete, after a moment, "since we found him at the movies, why don't we call him Mr. Johnson?"

There was a moment of silence.

"Who's Mr. Johnson?" asked Toby.

"The guy who owns the movie theater," Pete answered.

No one seemed to like the idea.

"How about Prince?" said Mr. Monroe.

"Dad," said Toby, "are you kidding?"

"Well, I had a dog named Prince once," he replied lamely.

Prince, I thought, that's a silly name for a dog.

"We found him at a Dracula movie. Let's call him Dracula," Toby said.

"That's a stupid name," said Pete.

"No, it's not! And anyway, I found him, so I should get to name him."

"Mom, you're not going to let him name him, are you? That's favoritism, and I'll be traumatized if you do."

Mrs. Monroe looked in wonder at Pete.

"Please Mom, please Dad, let's name him Dracula," cried Toby, "please, please, please." And with each please, he squeezed Chester a little harder.

Mrs. Monroe picked up the bowl of milk and moved toward the kitchen. Chester followed her every movement with his eyes, which now seemed to be popping out of his head. When she reached the kitchen door, she turned back and said, "Let's not have any more arguments. We'll compromise. He's a bunny and we found him at a Dracula movie, so we'll call him Bunny-cula. Bunnicula! That should make everybody happy, including me.

"What about me?" muttered Chester. "I won't be happy until she puts down that milk."

"Well, guys, is that okay with you?" she asked.

Toby and Pete looked at one another. And then at the rabbit. A smile grew on Toby's face.

"Yeah, Ma, I think that name is just right."

Pete shrugged. "It's okay. But I get to feed him."

"Okay, I'm going to put the milk back in the fridge. Maybe he'll drink it tomorrow."

"What about Chester?" Toby said, dropping the frantic cat to the floor. "Maybe he would like it." Chester made a beeline for Mrs. Monroe and looked up at her plaintively.

"Oh, Chester doesn't want any more milk, do you, Chester? You've already had your milk today." She reached down, patted Chester on his head and walked into the kitchen. Chester didn't move.

"Okay, bedtime," said Mr. Monroe.

"Good night, Bunnicula," Toby said.

"Good night, Count Bunnicula," Pete said sarcastically, in what I took to be his attempt at a Transylvanian accent. I may be wrong but I thought I saw a flicker of movement from the cage.

"Good night, Harold. Good night, Chester." I licked Toby good night.

"Good night, smelly Harold. Good night, dumb Chester." I drooled on Pete's foot. "Mom,

Harold drooled on my foot!"

"GOODNIGHT, PETE!" Mrs. Monroe said with great finality as she came back into the living room, and then more calmly, "Good night, Harold. Good night, Chester."

Mr. and Mrs. Monroe went up the stairs together.

"You know, dear," Mr. Monroe said, "that was very clever. Bunnicula. I could never have thought of a name like that."

"Oh, I don't know, Robert." She smiled, as she put her arm through his. "I think Prince is a lovely name, too."

The room was quiet. Chester was still sitting by the closed kitchen door in a state of shock. Slowly, he turned to me.

"I wish they had named him Fluffy," was all he said.

Copyright © 1979 by James Howe

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 181 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(133)

4 Star

(26)

3 Star

(12)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(8)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 181 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great beginning chapter book for kids reading level 3+.

    I heard of the bunnicula series from another teacher I taught with and she said how all the kids loved the series. I bought this as my nieces first chapter book and she can not put the book down. I have already gotten her the next book in the series.

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2008

    Great for young monster-lovers

    This is the book I used to introduce my young son to vampires because it uses a somewhat unintimidating bunny as its villan and animals as victems. This shouldn't scare children too much and if it does it will do it in a fun way.

    9 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2012

    Hi

    I absoloutly love this because most childrens books dont have pictures and take forever to read! This took no time and ithas somepictures andits hillarious you'll love it! :)

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2002

    It's a good book to read

    It's a good book to read. I gave it five stars becuse I really understand it.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2012

    This is a great book for kids

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 6, 2012

    Wonderful!

    I bought this book for my sister to read to her six year old daughter. I loved reading it to my children when they were younger. Once they could read it - they read it over and over again. The cover looks a little scary but the story is not. It is a truly delightful and fun story.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2012

    I Got This Book

    I have this book and its really good.It makes you sad,laugh & read all the books

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 22, 2011

    Great

    This is an awsome book best book ive ever read

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Harold the dog and Chester the cat are comfortable in their hom


    Harold the dog and Chester the cat are comfortable in their home with Mr. and Mrs. Monroe and their two sons, Toby and Pete (all fake names for their protection). Harold and Chester are far more erudite than we humans could possibly believe and are, shall we say, well-read.

    One evening, the Monroes, having been out to see a movie, arrive home with a small bundle that turns out to be a tiny rabbit in a shoebox full of dirt. The little black and white animal has a note tied around his neck with a ribbon and Harold recognizes the strange words as an obscure dialect from the Carpathian Mountains of Roumania. Mrs. Monroe names him Bunnicula because they found him at a Dracula movie.

    That first night, after everyone has gone to bed, is when a very odd thing happens and, a few days later, Chester determines that this little bunny is not your average bunny. He must save the Monroes and Harold and himself from what could be a terrible fate as no one else, including Harold, understands just what this creature really is. Harold, at least, is willing to help with the mission as long as he doesn’t have to wear garlic.

    First published in 1979, this is the first of a delightful series written for the 8-to-12-year-old crowd but its humor is sophisticated enough to keep adults laughing, too. (My favorite scene is when Chester is playacting to try to warn the Monroes. He becomes the kitty version of Bela Lugosi, cape and all.)

    Highly recommended.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2012

    Hey you

    Look! Some of you peeps think yall can go around putting stuff like,worst book ever,and this sucksBAD,but this is my fav. book now you can either shut up or go through me and I dont think you would want to do that! From smiley:-)

    4 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    4 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2011

    Qer

    I loved it

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2013

    Please read this

    I would actually rate like 20 stars but i cant do that. Best book anyone has ever read. My dad says that he read this before. How i got this book is that i was searching things earlier and dad said to look up Bunnicula. I did and I didnt put the nook down until I finished it. I would say that i read it like 10 times a week for two weeks. I would recomnend this to anyone who can read. Of course if you couldnt read you wouldnt be reading this review!! And if you cant read have someone read it to you. The book i mean. Not this review. But if you want someone to read this review be my guest. This book makes me want to get a bunny myself. And my dog Rosco and cat Bella. My mom says Bella meeans beautiful. Im going to quit yapping and let you read the book. Trust me its a good book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2013

    I first read this book nearly 25 years ago and I don't remember

    I first read this book nearly 25 years ago and I don't remember ever reading a funnier or more delightful book. Children love it and adults can revel in the word games the author has his main characters use. The pen-and-ink drawings compliment the story beautifully. My adult friend and I read this book out loud to each other and periodically had to stop to wipe the tears of laughter and to catch our breath. I HIGHLY recommend this book to both children and adults. ENJOY!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2012

    Oh the memories....

    This takes me back to first grade library storytime sitting at the table surrounded by classmates, listening to the antics of these three characters. Years later I found this at a Borders snatched it up and read it once I was home. It's still great at any age. Today I read this book to my daughter at our own little storytime ahh it comes full circle. So get this you won't be sorry.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2012

    Love the book

    This book is a great book my teachers read this book to all of our grade and there is like 100 kids in our grade total everyone loved it

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2012

    READ IT

    If you are a book reader read this book. I'm 9 and i read it"

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2012

    Bunicula...I love this book!

    I read this to my children, several times, and they loved it. I now have the great pleasure to read it to my grand children. What a joy and honor. We will have many happy hours together. I am so grateful it's still available. Enjoy!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2012

    Stupid sample book

    Okay, I'm not trying to be rude but, this book's sample was a peice of crud! The sample was books by the author, table of contenst, and the legal rights page. So to be honest, I'm never going to know what the book is like. I HOPE YOUR READING THIS BARNES & NOBLE!!! PLEASE FIX IT!!! To be for real I shouldn't give this an amount of stars because I' VE NEVER READ IT!!!!!!!!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 28, 2011

    Nice!

    Thumbs up

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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