Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery

Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery


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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 the newest pet in the Monroe household — a suspicious-looking bunny with unusual habits...and fangs!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416928171
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 08/08/2006
Series: Bunnicula Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 1,458
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.30(d)
Lexile: 700L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

James Howe is the author of more than ninety books for young readers. Bunnicula, coauthored by his late wife Deborah and published in 1979, is considered a modern classic of children’s literature. The author has written six highly popular sequels, along with the spinoff series Tales from the House of Bunnicula and Bunnicula and Friends. Among his other books are picture books such as Horace and Morris but Mostly Dolores and beginning reader series that include the Pinky and Rex and Houndsley and Catina books. He has also written for older readers. The Misfits, published in 2001, inspired the antibullying initiative No Name-Calling Week, as well as three sequels, Totally Joe, Addie on the Inside, and Also Known as Elvis. A common theme in James Howe’s books from preschool through teens is the acceptance of difference and being true to oneself. Visit him online at JamesHowe.com.

Read an Excerpt

What happened I do not remember now. Not all of it, or even most. Who said what to whom, and why. The details of the days. But the days themselves, these I remember as one long day passing inevitably into one long night.<

I am speaking of the days that stretched from July 1977 to June 1978, but the story begins before then -- in the spring of 1977, although I can't recall the day or week or month; earlier still, in the fall of 1969, the fall of 1964, in August of 1946. I was born that month, on the second day, in Oneida, New York, the youngest of four brothers and the only one to be born in a hospital and not at home. Debbie, the first child of two, was born ten days later, on the twelfth of August, in a hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. We met at Boston University in the fall of 1964, married in New York City in the fall of 1969, and began to write a children's book in the spring of 1977.

It was evening, just after dinner, when we sat down at our kitchen table, the wooden table I had painted a lustrous tomato-red soon after we'd married, and began to write.

I still have the scrap of paper from that evening. The misspelling and handwriting are hers. Oh, yes, most definitely her scrawl, so like tangled hair it was sometimes impossible to decipher. Were we drinking coffee? There's a stain on the paper that leads me to believe we were. Why do I see her standing at the kitchen sink, her head cocked to the side, her thick black hair falling over one shoulder? Why do I hear her laughing? Is it because she laughed so easily, or is it because in writing the book we were just then beginning, we would laugh so often? I see -- or imagine I see -- the look in her eyes that said: Who are we to think we can write a book? Who were we indeed?

Text Copyright © 1979 by James Howe

Reading Group Guide

About the Book

“ . . . Hilarious and poignant . . . An upbeat and reassuring novel that encourages preteens and teens to celebrate their individuality.” —Publishers Weekly


« “Howe tells the truth about the pain and anger caused by jeers and name-calling in a fast, funny, tender story that will touch readers.” —Booklist, starred review

Bobby, Skeezie, Addie, and Joe are “the misfits.” Bobby is fat. Skeezie dresses like it’s 1957. Addie is tall, brainy, and outspoken. And Joe is gay. They’re used to being called names, but they know they’re better than the names they’re called.

Besides, they’ve always had each other when times got tough. And surviving seventh grade looks like it’s not going to be easy. Starting with Addie’s refusal to say the Pledge of Allegiance and her insistence on creating a new political party to run for student council, the Gang of Five, as the four friends call themselves, is in for the year of their lives. It’s a year in which they learn about politics and popularity, love and loss, and what it means to be a misfit. After years of insults, the Gang of Five is determined to stop name-calling at their school. Finally, they are going to stand up and be seen—not as the one-word jokes their classmates have tried to reduce them to, but as the full, complicated human beings they are just beginning to discover they truly are.

Discussion Topics

• Why do you think the author chose the character of Bobby Goodspeed to tell the story of The Misfits? Could you see another character narrating the novel instead? How would the novel be different with another narrator? How is Bobby wise beyond his years?

• The Misfits is a uniquely written novel. Part of the story is written in prose and part of it is in a play format. Do you like this style of writing? Did it help you to learn more about the characters as you were reading?

• Celebrating one’s individuality is a strong theme throughout The Misfits. Which characters “celebrate their individuality” more than others?

• We don’t learn that Bobby’s mother has died until halfway through the novel. Does learning this important fact about Bobby’s life enable us to understand him better? Why do you think the author chose to withhold this information about Bobby until halfway through the story?

• Other characters in The Misfits have also endured a loss. These losses have shaped their personalities and have affected each of them differently. Discuss how this is so. Is there a “right” way to deal with loss?

• How do you feel about the character of Addie? Do you find her frustrating, or refreshingly honest? Would you be friends with Addie if you had the opportunity? Can you sympathize with Ms. Wyman regarding her feelings toward Addie? Do you think that Ms. Wyman was once a little like Addie when she was younger? And how is Addie ultimately like Ms. Wyman?

• Bobby, Skeezie, Addie, and Joe rebel against name-calling and base the platform for their new political party on banishing name-calling. However, they are guilty of calling people names themselves. Cite examples throughout the book where they fall into this trap. Do you think they realize that they are name-callers? Is name-calling a natural part of who we are or is it learned? Can name-calling ever be a positive thing?

• Examine and discuss the following pairings: Bobby and Mr. Kellerman, Addie and Ms. Wyman, Joe and Colin. How does each relationship demonstrate how people who seem outwardly very different can actually be very much alike?

• The role of family is significant in the development of each character in The Misfits. Talk about each character’s connection with his or her family. How do the families help to define each character?

• Bobby is surprised to discover that Pam was not popular when she was his age. How is this eye-opening and ultimately inspiring for Bobby? Do you think that Ms. Wyman, Mr. Kellerman and Bobby’s dad were “popular” when they were in seventh grade, or do you think they were more like the Gang of Five?

• Bobby tells his friends that his dad says, “It’s better to just get along [and] not make waves . . . [B]ringing attention can be a dangerous thing.” Why do you think he said this to Bobby?

• Mr. Kellerman makes the comment that “we’re all so ready to believe the worst about ourselves . . . we just accept them without even thinking about what they mean or even if they’re true.” Do you agree or disagree with him?

• Although the No-Name Party ultimately loses the student council election, Bobby puts the loss into perspective by saying “sometimes it is about winning something much bigger.” How does the No-Name Party “win” anyway? Can you think of other examples where something has been lost, but something much bigger has been won?

• The ending of The Misfits gives a glimpse into the Gang of Five’s future. What surprised you about the ending of the story? Can you try to predict how your circle of friends at school will end up one day? • After finishing the story, do you think Addie, Bobby, Skeezie, and Joe are really misfits?

• Does The Misfits present a realistic portrayal of life in middle school or junior high? Why or why not?

• After reading the book, do you wish that any of the characters were your friends? Who and why?

• Do you think it’s possible for two boys or two girls to go out together in your school? Why or why not?

• What do you think of the expression, “That’s so gay,” or “He/she is so gay”? Does being gay or not affect your opinion?

• Is your school and/or your community a safe place to be a “misfit”?

• What is the difference between seeing someone as “different” from you and “less than” you?

• Do you think it’s possible for a mixed-race couple to date in your school? Why or why not?

• Why does Addie refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance? What do you think of her position? Do you agree or disagree with the position of the principal, Mr. Kiley?

• Of all the characters in the book, who do you think shows the most courage and why?

• Do you think the resolution of the story is realistic or a fairy-tale ending? Is it better for fiction to reflect the way things are or point the way to how things could be?

• Is it possible for unpopular kids to be friends with—or go out with —popular kids? If not, what gets in the way of making this possible?

• Addie, Joe, Bobby, and Skeezie are strong characters. What are their strengths and how do these strengths help them?

• Addie makes assumptions about DuShawn. What are they and what does she learn that’s different from what she thought? Discuss other assumptions the characters make and what they’re based on. What assumptions do you make about groups or types of people?

• Discuss the character of Kelsey. What is it that makes someone “painfully” shy?

Activities and Research

• Research the history of name-calling. Did you know that in the past, people were jailed or even killed for calling people names? Research historical situations where this was an outcome of name-calling. Can name-calling still carry significant consequences in today’s world? When has name-calling been used to oppress people?

• Cite situations today where name-calling is used to ruin a person’s reputation. Provide current examples involving celebrities, members of the media, politicians, or local figures by reading the newspaper or scanning the Internet for several days or a week.

• Find out more about the different political parties that exist in the United States, other than the Republican and Democratic parties. Why and when were these political parties launched, and what do they stand for? What party would you join?

• If you had the opportunity to create a new political party for a school election, what would your platform be? How would you promote the party? Design several potential election posters with different logos and share them with your classmates.

• Talk with your parents, grandparents, a teacher, or an older sibling about their experiences in middle school or junior high. Do they reveal anything surprising? Did you have any preconceived notions about that time in their lives, only to find out that they were actually very different?

• Research the history of the Pledge of Allegiance and the controversies that have arisen over its use in schools and students’ refusal to participate in its recital.

• Research the experiences of gay students in the past and the present. An excellent resource is www.GLSEN.org, the website of GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network).

• Write about your own experiences of being a misfit, or what you imagine it is like for others who don’t fit into the mainstream in your school.

This reading group guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

Customer Reviews

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Bunnicula 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 111 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
IowaJulie More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's a good book to read. I gave it five stars becuse I really understand it.
BuriedUnderBooks More than 1 year ago
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&rsquo;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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Harold's laid-back, friendly narration drew me in before the suspense could grab hold. Even now, over a decade after having first fallen in love with it, Bunnicula still makes me laugh as Harold calmly recounts the adventures and behavior of his household, especially his well-read cat friend, Chester.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi guys I read this book with my fourth grade teacher. I really like it except the characters weren't believable. It is about the Monroes bringing home a bunny who Chester thinks is a vampire. Harold thinks this is a dumb conclusion. As I said the characters weren't very believable but other than that I like it and there are a LOT of funny parts which I love. The characters weren't believable. Otherwise, I loved it ! i would reccomend it and i LOVED the ending
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bunnicula is a hysterical and mysterious book. For example, in the story all Harold could think about was food. Another example, in the story Harold had to guessing what was going on with Bunnicula and the white vegatables . If you enjoy stories that make you laugh out loud or stories that keep you in suspence this may be the book for you!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I gave it that many stars because I like mysteries. I like the story because I like cats, rabbits, dogs and it is interesting. Like when Bunnicula went on his midnight run and when Chester tries to kill him. I think people who like mysteries should read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bunnicula is a great book for all ages. Chester the cat has a wide imagination, he thinks Bunnicula is a vampire. Now the vagetabbles are white and Chester has morre ideas to kill this bunny. Can harold save Bunnicula from this disastrous plan of Chester's?
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is one of the funniest,adventrous,most exciting books i've ever read! my 5th grade teacher read it to my class and i liked it so much i read it 2 more times since she read it! i would recommend this book to anyone!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is great for everyone. If the kids don't like being too scared, this is the book for them. It is less than 100 pages so elementary children are more willing to pick up this book and read it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I LOVED Bunnicula! It got my attention fast and kept it until the last page. The animals were all so funny, and I liked the way the Monroe's talked to their pets. Great book! I want to read more!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is such a fun book. My 3 grandsons ages 7,8 and 9 loved it. It has fun characters and a cute story. They enjoyed the book so much I purchased 3 more books in the Bunnicula series. If you want a good read that kids can finish and want to finish in one sitting Bunnicula books are for you
Suvorov More than 1 year ago
The Monroe family comes home one night from the movies with a new pet- a rabbit named Bunnicula. The cat, Chester, is convinced that Bunnicula is a vampire and enlists the help of Harold the dog (the narrator) to dispense with the monster. This book is hilarious. My daughter and I read it together in one sitting. You may ask, what exactly is a vampire rabbit? A vampire rabbit sucks the juices and color out of vegetables. Of course that will absolutely not do. So Chester tries to drive a steak in Bunnicula's heart. Yes, you read that correctly- steak. Or to be more precise, a sirloin steak. Wait until you see the pictures. I think the best picture is Chester, wearing a cape, and trying to pantomime a vampire in an attempt to warn the Monroes. The book is intelligent. I hate when children's books dumb down the vocabulary, but Bunnicula is not guilty of this. In fact, there were times when I stopped and made sure my daughter understood certain things like blight, class lectures and the Carpathian Mountain region. We thoroughly enjoyed this book and laughed through most of it. It is a great story and a lot of fun to read aloud together. We will definitely be reading the next books in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this for my niece and her younger twin brothers. She's been reading it to them and they've all loved it.
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
Looks like Harold and Chester have a new friend amongst their family. Only there's something weird with this cute bunny. One of my all time favorites. Noticing, I read more vampire books than any other genre or well, with the same type of character. A good start to the series. Love the duo of Harold the dog and Chester the cat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very nice and funny book for all ages!
Booksniffer13 More than 1 year ago
Ok so I'm not a child..But I still enjoyed this book and the books after. It's light and adorable and makes you want a vampiric bunny! I strongly encourage reading for all ages. If you see this book whether you're a kid or a parent I recommend it whole-heartedly.
Edna84 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book as a child it was my first foray into horror even tho it is more cutesy than scary.
Ann_W More than 1 year ago
Years ago, I bought "Bunnicula" for the daughter of my best friend. Everyone in the family thought that the book was great, and I subsequently bought more books about the same characters. I love it that there is always a mystery about what Bunnicula actually is. The story is a lot of fun.
mollymoo More than 1 year ago
this book seems scary but it isn't and it is.but it is super funny.the characters are good but just be sure to read the editor's note. you will understand it more well not really but it tells who the narrator is and is the start of the funnyness. so at first the bunnyjust seems soooo cute but will you believe that when he can get out of his cage by himself. and don't you find it werid that the rabbit was found in a dracula movie at the back seat of the theature? huh, huh isn't that a little strange. well you will have to find out if their is something wrong with the cute little or if it is all made up and he is just a regular rabbit after all. so read the book,READ THE BOOK. thank you
MicheleLeesBookLove More than 1 year ago
This tale of a bunny found in a movie theater showing Dracula is as old as I am. But the lovably dumb dog who is the point of view character and his cat friend who is too smart for his own good really seem to connect with kids. This books also has just enough tension to be exciting and enough camp to make the mystery safe rather than scary. Horror fans take note, this is a great starter book for the genre.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is great
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dear readers this book is beond funny. I loved this book so much I went online and looked up 'Bunnicula Sieres' and a lot of Bunnicula books came up and I ended up reading all the Bunnicula books in the sieres. And when I read the I last book I wanted to cry because I didn't want it to be over so now scenes I loved the books so much I already wrote my own Bunnicula book and I'm working on my second one. I am so happy James Howe wrote these books and now he's my rolmoidle. __ kristin b.