A few weeks ago, I came across a recap of great books from 2013 (I can’t remember where) and it contained a book called Battle Bunny. The concept was intriguing: a classic looking, overly bland and cliche picture book about a bunny on his birthday – with penciled in changes from a child all over every page completely changing the narrative from Birthday Bunny to Battle Bunny.
Not only is the concept for this book brilliantly clever, but the execution is impeccably perfect. Co-authors Jon Scieszka (rhymes with fresca) & Mac Barnett (rhymes with Barnett), along with illustrator Matthew Myers (rhymes with admires) have created my new favorite picture book (sorry Chicken Cheeks). The genius is that the original story is crafted such that every line can be rearranged by Alex (the child) and his pencil to completely change the plot.
This book is three stories in one:
- The original Birthday Bunny, a classic ‘all my friends forgot my birthday’ story drawn in an old-fashioned, almost ‘little golden book’ style.
- The modified Battle Bunny, a doomsday story of an evil bunny trying to take over the world, one forest at a time.
- The story of Alex, who is given a lame book by his grandmother, then takes a pencil to it to change everything, including adding himself to the story.
I’m not gonna say any more, because you must read this book for yourself. Any adult who appreciates creativity will marvel at the fantasticality. The inventiveness of the team behind it deserves to be commended. Unique ideas are rare and this is one of a kind. As a writer, I can only hope to come up with ideas this clever some day…
UPDATE: I found this video online of how the artist painted and drew as Alex:
ANOTHER UPDATE: Please note that this book is nearly impossible to read aloud (due to the dueling dual narratives) – it really needs to be read by individuals alone. This fact takes nothing away from how awesome this book truly is.