In Review: Bunny vs. Monkey: Book Two

One of the funniest, cutest, silliest, brightest books created. Highest possible recommendation.

Bunny vs. Monkey: Book Two by Jamie Smart

Published by David Fickling Books/Scholastic on January 31, 2017. Paperback of 64 pages at $7.99. Also available as an ebook. Intended for ages 7 – 10, grades 2 – 5. 

Note: I read an advanced copy so anything may have changed by publication.

The cover: Poor Bunny is getting his bum zapped by the evil Monkey who’s using one of Skunky’s newest inventions to make his foe miserable. This image by Jamie Smart sums up what the book will be about: Monkey causing problems with Bunny receiving most of his wrath. The design of Monkey’s machine is cool — futuristic without being overdone, and the colors are gloriously bright with fall’s foliage. This is a cover that stands apart from others on the shelf. Overall grade: A+ 

The premise: From the back cover, “Welcome back to the woods! It’s a peaceful home, really, but wait…ZAP! ZAAAP!! ZAAAPPPPP!!!! It’s Monkey in a hovercraft that fires lasers! And is that a kitten cannon, Hamster Mobile, and a lemony doomsday device, too? Of course it is! Join Bunny, Monkey, and all the rest of the lovable and crazy characters from the first book as science and nature squares off again.” I loved the first book and am hoping to get more cute, twisted tales from this collection of terrific characters. Overall grade: A

The characters: Bunny is the voice of reason in the woods, and his is the only one. He does like to have a good time, such as tidying up by raking leaves, but if Monkey appears he knows that trouble isn’t far behind. Monkey just wants to rule the woods and have everyone bow down before him. His screams for obedience, his whines for his always losing ventures, and his stupidity are always hilarious. Skunky, the mastermind behind Monkey’s contraptions, creates some wondrous machines, such as the Wish Cannon, the Hamster Mobile, and the Trojan Moose, complete with Bum Rockets. Action Beaver remains his dumb self, but once he accidentally acquires the Smarty Helmet he’s reading books instead of eating them. Le Fox continues to grouse, giving himself several origin stories until revealing why he does so. Metal Steve is also back, smashing everything in the forest like a temperamental two-year-old, until the right dial is turned. And a gasp inducing new race of creatures is revealed on Page 61 that may change everyone’s life forever! This group of characters continues to be the cutest and funniest inhabitants of the woods. Overall grade: A+

The settings: The stories are set in “the woods”, so there’s plenty of trees and lakes for the characters to play with. However, there are two other terrific settings: Skunky’s lair and the future. Skunky and Monkey aren’t in the lair, but three of the “innocent heroes” venture in and discover things they shouldn’t for several good laughs. The future is a much darker, but still a funny place. Future Skunky time travels to Present Skunky to give warnings about Future Monkey’s takeover of the woods. Faster than you can say “Marty McFly”, readers get a taste of woods ruled by the power crazed simian. Overall grade: A+

The art: I could look at Jamie Smart’s artwork for hours. So much is placed in a panel; for example, look at the first story, “The Wish Cannon.” The first panel that contains Skunky’s lair has everything in it one would expect from a mad scientist: beakers, cables dangling, a Jacob’s Ladder, and plenty of computer panels with lots of switches. When said cannon becomes a Kitten Cannon, several of the felines are happily shot from the device, but looking at squirrel one can tell he’s under attack, as a pair of pain stars are coming out of his noggin. When Skunky regains control of his weapon it grows three metallic tentacles, but with a rainbow backdrop complete with stars. After a momentary romp of power, Skunky takes a pause and one of the tentacles, while idle, wraps lovingly around a flower. Even in the scary moments, Smart has fun with the visuals to show young readers that even the vilest villains have a softer side. The creations of Skunky are amazing, with my favorite being Lord Quack Quack, whose decoy release still has me smiling every time I think of it. Every character, action, and panel is a wonder to behold that features some of the best illustrations being produced. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: In addition to the amazing visuals are the spectacular colors. This book is a vivid feast for the eyes with all the colors Smart employs. Skunky’s lair has the expected metallic blues one would expect of a working lab, but the colors explode into orange when a new weapon is produced, and the colors turn to an unforgettable putrid green when sauerkraut is introduced. The calming blues of a river are ruptured by the arrival of the violet Octo-Blivion, creating a good contrast. I particularly like how Smart uses colors to populate his woods with trees: rather than outline a distant tree, he uses color shapes to create the forest and it looks tremendous. Overall grade: A+

The final line: One of the funniest, cutest, silliest, brightest books created. It’s impossible to read this book and not feel happy. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

To purchase a print copy of this book go to https://store.scholastic.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/SearchCmd?storeId=11301&langId=-11301&catalogId=16551&krypto=Hqrp7LktTj2yaPBgCHfi8ADeCvwuv9zSkNUNwNn0mAisacvWhX08DPunDoji9lyyPEtMGhIxkmyMXNeska8%2B0cPhN4Qu85wcqdEzh3e%2BRKRYYF0Lf61imcBhC9HSiUZJi9d3nPtG7VQvM1LYIkty%2F7TqrG2Vjgv%2Fvd9NRXkYzFI%3D&ddkey=https%3ASearchCmd

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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