|James and Deborah Howe||A child's library is not complete without the Bunnicula stories. Reviews at Amazon; Author Style Comments and Sample Lessons are Below.|
|BUNNICULA: A RABBIT TALE OF MYSTERY
CELERY STALKS AT MIDNIGHT
Howe was born and raised in the state of New York. In 1968, he graduated
from Boston University, majoring in theater arts. After he graduated,
James moved to New York City to pursue a career in acting. During
his time in New York City, he appeared in some commercials, directed some
plays and worked as a literary agent for playwrights and other writers.
Even with all of these jobs, he still found time to do what he loved the
His late wife Deborah, along with many movie versions of Dracula that were shown on television during the middle 1970’s, were credited for inspiring James to create and write his “Bunnicula” series of books. After Deborah’s death in 1978, he wrote “The Hospital Book”. This book was based on the experiences that he had during his late wife’s illness. After this book, James decided to write more books based on the characters found in “Bunnicula”: Harold, Chester, Bunnicula, Howie and the Monroes.
Besides writing the “Bunnicula” series, James has written a series of
adventure books based on the character Sebastian Barth: who happens to
be a thirteen-year-old sleuth. He has also written picture books, novels,
and screenplays for movies and television. All told, James has written
over fifty books for children.
Presently, James lives with his second wife, Betsy Imershein, and their daughter, Zoe, in up-state New York.
|HORACE AND MORRIS BUT MOSTLY DOLORES
|HORACE AND MORRIS JOIN THE CHORUS (But What About Dolores?)
Plans for “Bunnicula”, submitted by Peter Krzyzanowski
1. Goal: To familiarize students with the concept of a “portmanteau” – two words made into one word, such as “Bunnicula” (Bunny & Dracula). This lesson should aid the students with recognizing prefixes and suffixes, as well as creating a better insight to what the story might be about.
Before reading the book, have the students break into groups and predict what “Bunnicula” is about based on its title.
Next, write examples of some portmanteaus on the board:
Catzilla: A combination cat and giant lizardAfter discussing these portmanteaus with the students, have them come up with there own animal portmanteaus and share them with the class.
Then have the students write a paragraph on what they think “Bunnicula” is about.
Have the students illustrate their portmanteau or create a costume for the Halloween season.
To familiarize students to the concept of personification – giving a thing , object, or in this case, animals, human traits.
Before reading the book, have a discussion on personification.
Ask the students if they know of any characters that are personified.
Give examples such as Scooby-Doo, Arthur, or Mickey Mouse. Then read
chapter one and ask the children if any of the animal characters were personified.
The students should be able to decipher that Harold and Chester were personified.
Next, discuss with the students what human characteristics these characters
Style can be considered how an author says something by their use of words. In “Bunnicula” and “The Celery Stalks Midnight,” Howe is using the character Harold the dog as narrator. From reading these two stories, it seems as though Howe is speaking through Harold. In many of Howe’s books, he uses one character – usually an animal – as his narrator.
In addition to using animal narrators to tell his stories, Howe uses a great deal of personification. Personification can be defined as giving human traits to animals. In “Bunnicula”, “The Celery Stalks Midnight”, and “Horace and Morris but mostly Dolores,” Howe has given all of his animal characters human traits. All of the animal characters are able to talk to each other. On the other hand, none of the animal characters are able to speak to any of the human characters. Thus the interaction between animals and humans is the same in his stories as in real life. It should be noted that the character Bunnicula, a vampire bunny rabbit, does not talk to the other animal characters in the “Bunnicula” series.
In the “Bunnicula” series of books, there are three central animal characters: Harold the dog, Chester the cat, and Bunnicula, the vampire bunny rabbit. Howe gives a stereotypical view of each animal character. Harold the dog is the narrator of the series, but he seems to be portrayed as a typical dog. For instance, he likes to eat human food, especially steak and chocolate cupcakes. Harold can be seen as being fiercely loyal to the Monroe boys and his little pal Bunnicula. Also, Harold’s mind tends to wander when Chester is lecturing him to thoughts of taking a nap or eating food.
Meanwhile, Chester the cat is portrayed as being smart and intellectually superior to Harold. Chester is able to read books and deduce from the material that he has read concerning vampires that Bunnicula is a vampire bunny. Chester is constantly plotting schemes to kill Bunnicula and uses Harold as his sidekick to put these schemes to work.
Bunnicula is just a cute bunny who happens to suck the juices out of vegetables and turns them white while the Monroes are sleeping. During the day, Bunnicula sleeps in his cage: looking cute, like bunnies do!
Howe uses humor in his “Bunnicula’ series, by placing Harold, Chester and Howie – a dachshund puppy into situations where something funny is bound to happen due to animal curiosity. In “The Celery Stalks At Midnight,” Harold, Chester, and Howie jump into a pickup truck full of trash cans so they can find Bunnicula. While in the back of truck, Howie starts smelling something good and can’t resist the urge to dive into the garbage – Like many dogs do! Howie dives headfirst into a garbage can, spilling all the contents into the flatbed of the truck and all over Chester, Howie, and Harold.
The illustrations found in “Bunnicula” and “The Celery Stalks At Midnight” are in black and white and really aren’t that central to the meaning of either story. The illustrations enhance the humorous parts of these stories. However, the illustrations found in ‘Horace and Morris but mostly Dolores” are brightly colored and play a key role in assisting the reader to understand and follow the story. By looking at the illustrations, young children can interpret what is going on without knowing how to read all the words in the story.
Howe's use of personification greatly enhances his stories. Children love it when animals are able to talk and act like Howe's characters because they can relate to his characters.