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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Battle Bunny, written by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett, illustrated by Matthew Myers. Simon & Schuster, 2013. $15.99 ages 5 and up

"Birthday attle Bunny made
himself his favorite breakfast:
carrot brain juice and a bowl of
Carrot Crispies greasy guts." My
birthday is the most special day
of the year because I get super
birthday presents from owers
over all my enemies. friends.
And I get to do whatever I want.
put my evil plan into action."

Would that I were a fly on the wall when Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett made the decision to put pen to paper and craft an alternate version of a fairly bland picture book about a Birthday Bunny? Do you think they had fun?

Perhaps they did!
When Gran Gran gives the book to her 'little birthday bunny' Alexander, I'm sure she has no idea what he might do with it. Certainly not read it in its present form. Rather, he uses it to tell his own hero saga. He uses his pencil to change Birthday Bunny to Battle Bunny, and the fun is begun!

No longer the sweet and rational celebrant, he finds new life as a helmet-wearing, battle-scarred cottontail with an Evil Plan up his sleeve and fighting in his heart..."today I am going to whomp on you, birdbrain, and pluck you like a sick chicken!' He serves notice that his enemies had better be concerned about his 1,104 styles of fighting. He will show no mercy.

Each page turn will have readers eager to pore over the many changes that appear in the text and the cheeky artwork done by Matthew Myers, with the help of Alex, of course. There is so much to see!

The story goes that the two imaginative and witty writers were on a book tour together and took their pens to what Mr. Scieszka calls 'ehanced' storytelling. He doesn't like to call it 'defaced'. It is a very subtle difference and is considered quite 'amazing' by the popular and prolific author. Just as we create new songs from old in a 'mash-up', so this can happen with a book. The two reconstructed that book, and then thought they might write their own book that they would next alter.
So begins a rather commonplace tale about a celebratory bunny, one that children might read without much enthusiasm but that hangs together as a story. It has to be bad in order for them to transform it into something so much better.  
Matt Myers is the perfect addition to their tongue-in-cheek team. Once the original illustrations were complete, he was free to draw like a kid which he found quite challenging. Obviously, he was up for it as he helped create a book that will appeal to many, and sure to be read repeatedly and shared endlessly. It is that good! Wicked funny, and totally engaging, it willraise some eyebrows and any complaints concerning 'defacing' books will only serve to attract even more readers.

Bravo, gentlemen!

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