Gosh I love this book. Mac Barnett and Jon Scieszka, two very funny people have outdone themselves with Birthday Battle Bunny. Picture books are generally intended for children eight or younger. This one, however, can easily be enjoyed by any child, even those 20 or older. I can imagine this book being passed around in a group of giggling children.
Alex (I’d guess he’s about ten years old) receives a book from his grandmother for his birthday. It’s a cute little book about a Bunny celebrating his birthday. A five or six-year-old might enjoy it. Alex enjoys it to, after he changes it to Battle Bunny, adding such things a bombs, grenades, airplanes, and rockets to the pictures and crossing out words and whole sentences to replace them with words more appropriate to the tale of the rampaging battle bunny.
Alex has a fantastic imagination, one that turns a the events of a day when Birthday Bunny’s big day seems to have been forgotten by his friends. Battle Bunny, on the other hand turns those friends into foes as he destroys them along with the forest they live in.
In the end it’s not the Bunny or his friends/foes who save the day. It’s Alex, who introduces himself, along with the President as new characters in the book.
I especially love the cover of this book. When it arrived, I thought it had been damaged because it looks used. It’s another indication of the quality of the illustrations in this book. Inside, the artwork looks like that of a simple picture book that has been liberated and improved by a ten-year old.
Is there a moral to this story? Perhaps. I imagine Alex’s parents might be appalled at the way he treated a present from his grandmother. It frightens me that kids might see this as giving them permission to deface any book. I’ve often checked Picture Books out of the library and found scribbling and coloring on the pages. In one instance the villain was cut out of the book and excised from every page, although his dialogue remained. I’m hoping parents use this as an opportunity to let children know, it might be okay to deface their own books, but not when the book belongs to someone else.