Chickenhare, a bunny with the legs of a chicken, has been captured with his friend Abe, a bearded box turtle, by Barley. Barley wants to sell them to Klaus, a crazy, evil taxidermist. Klaus plans to kill and stuff Chickenhare and Abe for his collection of friends, because he misses his old goat, Mr. Buttons, who ran away. Chickenhare and Abe are in a sticky (and possibly feathery) situation. How will they escape?
Chickenhare and Abe are pretty adorable characters. I never would have thought a turtle with a beard could be so cute! They are both loyal, determined, and snarky—the best mix of character traits for heroes. Klaus, meanwhile, is a strange combination of terrifying and sad. While he is clearly evil, I found myself pitying his craziness a bit. He’s lonely and he is trying to fix that in very disturbing ways. I wish Chris Grine would have spent a few more pages on world-building. Where did these weird creatures come from? Where are they? What are “shromphs” exactly? To really connect with Chickenhare, I needed a bit more about all concerned. I was left with a lot of questions, which will hopefully be answered in the sequel.
The graphic novel, as a whole, was a little disturbing, while still fun. The characters were witty and entertaining, while the color palette was moody and dark. The only vivid colors in the book are used on Chickenhare and Abe, who are white with orange and green, respectively. The dingy greys combined with the menacing plotline made the story a bit heavier than I was anticipating, given that it is about a bunny with chicken legs. There is also some violent imagery, which might be an issue for some younger readers.
This is aimed at children in grades 4-7, which seems appropriate to me. Older children might want a bit more to fill out the plot, while younger children would most likely be upset by the way the story ends. I think some readers will definitely enjoy this action-packed, quick-moving story, but some of the imagery (such as a rotting corpse), might be too much for some readers. Still, I cheered for Chickenhare the whole way through and will be looking for the sequel.
by Chris Grine
Publisher Age Rating: 9-13