What if a creative, military-obsessed kid took a pencil and went to town on a boring old book?
This bold premise will cause some eye-popping as the Don’t Write In Books rule is gleefully violated. Scieszka and Barnett’s story is laid over a particularly saccharine and tepid picture book, a gift from Gran Gran to Alexander for his birthday. “Everybody needs a Special Thinking Place,” the text coos. “Where is your Special Thinking Place?” In the foundation story, Birthday Bunny anticipates birthday gifts, finds that his friends have forgotten, pouts, gets a surprise party and learns a lesson. Myers’ underlying oil paintings—some covering a whole page, others oval-shaped on faded cream paper that’s yellowing at the edges—feel decidedly old-fashioned. But neither prose nor pictures are safe from the pencil bandit. Copious words and fragments of words are struck through (though all remain clearly legible), with new words and letters hand-printed above. Careful, childlike pencil drawings (realistically smudged) enhance and completely reflavor the original paintings. Birthday Bunny is given an eye patch and a WWF belt, becoming Battle Bunny: “I am going to whomp on you, bird brain, and pluck you like a sick chicken!” Bunny’s weapons include megatron bombs and robot killer bees. “He went back to digging” becomes “He went down for the count.”
An enthusiastically taboo, devil-may-care outing for combat fans—and a great writing inspiration to use on old books headed for the bin. (Picture book. 5-10)