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Mr. and Mrs. Bunny — Detectives Extraordinaire!: 05/15/15

cover art

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny — Detectives Extraordinaire! by Polly Horvath is the story of a pair of rabbits who end up saving Canada from cyber terrorists and rescuing a girl's parents from kidnappers. Meanwhile, all the girl wants to do is save up enough money for white shoes in time for Prince Charles's visit to her school. Instead, though, her parents are missing, her uncle's in a coma and she has to work with two very strange rabbits to put everything to rights!

Polly Horvath's books always have a very strong sense of place. Like the Everything on a Waffle books, Mr. and Mrs. Bunny—Detectives Extraordinaire! is set on and near Vancouver Island. Vancouver Island is the largest of a group of islands to the west of Vancouver city and to the north of Port Angeles, Washington. It is only accessible via water or air; there are no bridges! Madeline and her family happen to live on one of the outlier islands, Hornby, but she goes to public school in Nanaimo (a city on the northeast side of the island). I've included a Google map with instructions on how to get from Hornby to Nanaimo, and they comport with Madeline's own description early on in the book.

On the outskirts of Cumberland (near where Madeline's ferry lands) Mr. and Mrs. Bunny have moved into their new home in a rabbit city. Why Cumberland — well, it's the home of the Marmot Recovery Centre's Cormox Valley Visitor's Centre. And marmots (and foxes) play a role in mischief that will unite the Bunnies and Madeline.

Horvath's books are usually incredibly Canadian but this one is excessively so, and does for Vancouver Island what L.M. Montgomery's books do for Prince Edward Island, Laura Ingalls Wilder's books do for De Smet, South Dakota, or Beverly Cleary's books do for Portland, Oregon. Take for instance, Madeline's parents, Flo and Mildred, are ex-hippies from California. If they're ex-hippies, chances are they're from the Bay Area.

Seems far fetched? Nope. Completely possible. Our one night out on the town for a fancy meal in Victoria (the capital of British Columbia) our waiter asks us where we're from. We tell him we're on a car trip from the Bay Area and he goes to explain how he was born in Santa Clara but raised here. I think of his story every time I think of Madeline's. Though I suspect her parents are more trying on a day to day basis than his were!

The final piece in this equation is an uncle who is one of Canada's top cryptologists. The foxes have come across a key piece of information for running a rabbit flavored food chain but it's in code. Knowing that the best de-coder lives in the area, they decide to kidnap his family to force them to divulge his address. There's just two small problems: their mastery of human English isn't so hot and Flo and Mildred have no clue where he lives (their minds long since rotted by their alternative lifestyle).

What follows is a ridiculous mash up of a typical girl's mystery series and a typical animal fantasy story. Think Nancy Drew teaming up with the animals from The Wind in the Willows. Along with that mashup is threaded some very strong opinions on the monarchy, on parenting, on feminism, commercialism, and the environment.

Five stars

Comments (2)

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Comment #1: Saturday, May 16, 2015 at 04:11:13

Nicola Mansfield

Wow! I have a couple of Horvath's books but have never got around to reading her. You make me want to rush out and get this one! Or at least finally read one I do have ...

Comment #2: Saturday, May 16, 2015 at 10:43:41


You should start with the ones you have. They're all delightful.

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