So, there's this vampire rabbit. And he sucks the juice out of carrots, celery stalks, you know. He gets adopted by a family that finds him in a movie theater (rabbits at the movies; kids will love it!). The cat realizes that the bunny sucks vegetables, thinks he's a threat to the family, and sets out to kill the rabbit (think Fatal Attraction for kids). Fun ensues. (Oh, yeah, and the family dog tells the story.)
I've been thinking a lot lately about what makes a successful children's book, what guarantees that it will be a hit. While I truly think there is no guarantee, the best books do seem to share a trait of irreverence, of rebelliousness that thumbs its nose at the adult status quo. Much as Lewis Carroll ridicules adult mores and morals in the Alice books, successful children's books that have followed in Alice's footsteps pay more attention to what kids will appreciate than what their parents will. I think Jeff Kinney, the creator of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, explained this concept well in an interview a while back: "Kids can sniff out when they are being preached to and they don't like it," he says. "So while my books aren't amoral they are not infused with morals or a message either and kids like that" (Kinney interview). Bunnicula persists in my mind as a book of this sort; it may have a message and a moral, but it is largely about the fun of reading itself, of getting engrossed in a fantastical scenario and just having a good time. Here's hoping you dig into some fun yourself this weekend. Adieu. ~Alice
PS: This post is dedicated to my husband (let's call him the Mad Hatter), because we always tease him that Bunnicula was the last book he ever read ... when he was 7;).