Today I have a headache and I have so many things to get done, I don’t know which one to do.
So I don’t think I’ll do anything.
Or so would read my Facebook status if I felt like putting it in, which I do not. I really don’t want anyone to annoy me by ‘liking’ it. (There’s nothing so annoying to me as the ‘like’ button on Facebook. For some reason. I literally spend minutes to hours of my life obsessing over how much I hate it when people ‘like’ something.)
The above has nothing to do with anything, but it helped me get started.
It occurs to me I have not written a review in a few weeks or days or however-long-it’s-been, so I am going to wing it and write a little something about James Howe.
When I was eight, or seven, or possibly six, I had a record of the story Bunnicula. I can still hear the narrator. (Funny thing: I always remember people’s voices. I forget what they look like very quickly, but voices stay with me. Is it that way for everyone? Perhaps I should do a poll.)
Bunnicula was the story of a vampire bunny who drained vegetables of juice. I don’t know where Mr. Howe came up with this idea, but it’s absolutely brilliant. I want some of his Kid’s Writer Juice.
The Monroe family discover the baby rabbit in a shoebox at a screening of Dracula. He has markings like a little cape and he has fangs. Central to the book are the family pets, Harold, a dog, and Chester, an over-educated and neurotic cat.
The family takes Bunnicula in with open arms and finds nothing about the baby rabbit unusual. Even the weird, white vegetables that keep turning up around the house don’t clue them in. It is the highly imaginative Chester who figures out what Bunnicula really is and gets all paranoid that the cute little bunny is going to turn on the family and suck their blood. Of course, the bunny only sucks vegetable juice and in the end, Harold saves him from Chester in a dramatic moment, making Bunnicula a firm member of the family and inducing Chester to accept him and stop being so paranoid.The family takes Bunnicula to a vet and the doctor puts him on a juice diet, which stops the appearance of white vegetables and everything goes back to normal.
Each book is both humorous and slightly chilling, with the animal characters embarking on a scary mystery and saving the day. The stories usually revolve around some form of the unexplained, be it ghosts or vampires or Bigfoot.
When I was a kid I read these books over and over, which more than likely explains a few things about me.In addition to being funny, the books were semi-educational of all things paranormal.
Stacked next to my bed were books about ghosts, the Loch Ness Monster, Sasquatch and unsolved crimes. I never really got into UFO’s because aliens seem farfetched and disconnected from planet earth. I was interested in earth-bound mysteries, not strange beings who flitted about among the heavens and sucked people up in a green beam of light. Human-like apes romping through the trees I could believe in, but skinny creatures with egg-shaped heads and huge bug eyes? Come on.
Of course, now that I am older, I welcome aliens and UFO’s in with the rest of the pack. (Come on in and join the party! Nessie is here, along with the Jersey Devil and the spirits of a few Civil War Soldiers. Sorry to deny you guys entrance for so long! Chalk it up to ignorance! Would you like some punch?) The Universe is so vast, I find it narrow-minded to believe we are all alone, and although I don’t wander about in fields after dark waiting to be sucked up into a tractor beam, I heartily believe in life on other planets. The Truth is Out There and all that. You go, Spooky Mulder.
James Howe created this delightful series for all the future wide-eyed ghost-hunter nerds of America, and I’m not sure whether to thank him for it or not. But I certainly thank him for providing us with a special and unique series.
I would love to have included the 1983 audio version of the first book by the gentle-voiced Lou Jacobi. All they have now is the updated version by Victor Garber, who is not nearly as good at the different voices and sounds clipped and dull, like he’s faking a British accent. However, while I do have the 1983 version on tape…it’s, uh, on tape.
(I am still struggling with the whole cassette to Mp3 thing.)
Meanwhile, the lengths I went to find an online version of this book was exhausting. You’d think this thing was highly classified material, the way it’s copyright protected. All I wanted to do was copy and paste an excerpt instead of laboriously copying one out, but nay. Can nothing in my life be simple?
Here is an excerpt about my favorite character and I hope you appreciate it, dear readers. Chester is telling Harold, the narrator, about the events of the previous night.
I feel at this time there are a few things you should know about Chester. He is not your ordinary cat. (But then I am not your ordinary dog, since an ordinary dog wouldn’t be writing this book, would he?)
Chester came into the house several years ago as a birthday gift for Mr. Monroe, along with two volumes of G.K. Chesterton (hence the name, Chester) and a first edition of Dickons’ A Tale of Two Cities. As a result of this introduction to literature, and given the fact that Mr. Monroe is an English professor, Chester developed a taste for reading early in life…He especially likes mystery stories, and tales of horror and the supernatural. As a result he has developed a very vivid imagination.
That night…the wind and the rain had stopped and, as Chester read Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, he became increasingly aware of the eerie stillness…as Chester tells it, he suddenly felt compelled to look at the rabbit. The little bunny had begun to move for the first time since being put in the cage. He lifted his tiny nose, and inhaled deeply, as if gathering sustenance from the moonlight.
…Through the silence drifted the strains of a remote and exotic music.
“I could have sworn it was a gypsy violin,” Chester told me. “I thought perhaps a caravan was passing by, so I ran to the window.”
I remember my mother telling me something about caravans when I was a puppy. But for the life of me, I couldn’t remember what.
“What’s a caravan?” I asked, feeling a little stupid.
“A caravan is a band of gypsies, traveling through the forest in their wagons.” Chester answered.
“Ah yes.” It was coming back to me now. “Station Wagons?”
“No, covered wagons! The gypsies travel all through the land, setting up camps around great bonfires, doing magical tricks, and sometimes, if you cross their palms with a piece of silver, they’ll tell your fortune.”
“You mean if I gave them a fork, they’d tell me my fortune?” I asked, breathlessly.
Chester looked at me with disdain. “Save your silverware,” he said. “It wasn’t a caravan after all.”