Great Illustrated Books

Battle Bunny

By Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett; Illustrated by Matthew Myers

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013
Pages : 32
Suggested Ages: 5-9
ISBN: 9781442446731

In this hilarious send-up of over-sweetened, "fuzzy wuzzy" children's books, mayhem and side-splitting chaos rule the day. Imagine your 7-year-old taking a pencil and creatively "editing" a children's book about a cutesy, woodland rabbit's birthday surprise party, and you have the premise for Scieszka and Barnett's wonderfully subversive (and intensely clever) "Battle Bunny."

From the very beginning, it's clear that Alex (who happens to be the book's owner, per his grandmother's flowery inscription to him inside) has little regard for his special storybook birthday present. The book's title page has been crossed out and changed from "Birthday Bunny" to "Battle Bunny," and features Alex's own illustration of the evil Battle Bunny and our hero "Alex" (no surprise there) squaring off against each other in the forest. Alex even goes so far as to apply his editorial skills to the book's copyright page, with some highly amusing results. This is clearly no editorial slouch we're dealing with here, folks.

Kids will revel in the dual nature of this book and delight in Alex's brash embellishments to the original (and pretty boring) "birthday surprise" plot. Like most of his Evil Genius brethren before him, Battle Bunny wants to take over the world and has created an Evil Plan to do just that. Despite the many threats and warnings he receives from characters such as El Tejon (the greatest Badger wrestler ever) and Sergeant Squirrel (of the Robot Police Force, no less), Battle Bunny proves himself to be unstoppable…even when coming face to face with robot killer bees, megatron bombs, and the Kenji Fighting Force (comprised of Shaolin Bear and Ninja Turtle, who have been sent by the President himself to deal with Battle Bunny and are well-versed in 1,103 fighting styles.) Alas, Battle Bunny knows 1,104! Who can save the world from his crazy, hare-brained plan?

Enter "Alex," who has been personally asked by the President of the U.S. (who, as illustrated by Editor Alex, appears as both Obama and Lincoln) to intervene and save everyone from Battle Bunny's evil Doomsday plans. As you might expect, a battle of epic proportions follows and involves Battle Bunny employing a slew of Evil Genius tricks of the trade, including mind control helmets, explosives, and even poisonous snakes (the Achilles heel of many an intrepid hero…Indiana Jones, anyone?)  Things look pretty grim for Hero Alex, but he has one card left to play that Bunny doesn't expect (but readers might.)

Kids will crack-up at Alex's clever editing of the original illustrations, which takes adorable forest creatures and turns them into evil mechanisms of unbridled mayhem. Parents will enjoy the sly, cantankerous humor (was that actually a Waiting for Godot reference I just read?) and will likely be reminded of their own classic storybooks… not to mention the changes they wish they'd made (or perhaps did make) themselves, given the chance.

"Battle Bunny" is sure to bring out the creative editor in your own kid…but before they start sharpening those pencils, be sure to check out Simon & Schuster's website, where you can print out a copy of the original, pre-edited "Birthday Bunny" story that Alex turns into the epic "Battle Bunny." You can also take a peek at some fun guest edited versions by authors such as Adam Rex, Jack Gantos, and Kate DiCamillo, who put their own spin on "Birthday Bunny." (While you're at it, be sure to check out the fun "Battle Bunny" book trailer at for some, uh, interesting cake eating.)

Reviewed by : JW


If you love this book, then try:

Barton, Chis. Shark vs. Train. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010.

Becker, Aaron. Journey. Candlewick, 2013.

Brown, Peter. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013.

Daywalt, Drew. The Day the Crayons Quit. Philomel, 2013.

Willems, Mo. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale. Hyperion, 2004.

Critics have said

"An enthusiastically taboo, devil-may-care outing for combat fans���and a great writing inspiration to use on old books headed for the bin."

"This is a perfect book to give independent readers who are looking for something a little different. The unique layout and design will inspire creativity in readers."
School Library Journal