Horvath takes on the world of talking animals with all the absurdist, satirical panache fans have come to expect from the award-winning author.
The intrigue begins when fifth-grader Madeline’s hippie parents Mildred and Flo are kidnapped on Canada’s Hornby Island by a band of foxes in trench coats who have learned all about “hoomans” from studying sitcoms. The foxes don’t care about Mildred and Flo; they just urgently need the spacey couple to remember where Mildred’s Uncle Runyon lives, a government scientist who may be able to decipher the encrypted recipes needed to launch their enterprise: Fanny Fox’s Canned Rabbit Products and By-products. As the hyper-responsible Madeline contemplates her parents’ plight, she’s discovered by Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, empty nesters (and detectives) who are only too delighted to find a nice human girl who speaks fluent Bunny, even if her bottom is gigantic. The story of Madeline’s budding relationship with the refreshingly nurturing Bunnys and their joint endeavor to find Madeline’s hopeless parents propel the farcical adventure. Playful pokes at everything from Fox News (“Foxes are titans of industry”) to the glut of orphans in children’s books are often hilarious. A favorite of the splendid black-and-white illustrations shows Mr. Bunny in his 12-inch disco shoes that allow him to reach the pedals of his SmartCar.
A wickedly funny ramble. With bunnies. (Satiric mystery. 9-14)