bunnymonkeyWhat happens to a peaceful forest when an aggressive, arrogant, and very confused monkey shows up? Utter chaos and hilarity, that’s what. The story begins with Bunny, who has his hands full with his less-than-bright friends, Pig and Weenie. Little does he know how much worse things can get. “Meanwhile, in a scientific facility just over the hill…” a very obstreperous monkey, complete with mohawk and schemes of world domination, is being launched into space! Monkey is determined to take over the “strange planet” he has found, Bunny is determined that he’s not going to do any such thing. The lines are quickly drawn as Monkey finds sort-of allies, like Skunky who’s an eccentric inventor and Bunny calls on his friends, including the stealthy Le Fox.

This is a quick read, the book being composed of short stories lasting 2-3 pages each. Generally, Monkey has a new plan, usually including a wacky invention from Skunky, attacks the forest creatures, and they either defeat Monkey or, more frequently, the inventions blow up in Monkey’s face. There is a rough chronology to the stories, starting in January and running through June. There are lots of silly jokes, even sillier weapons, and ridiculous characters.

The art suits the frenetic pace of the plots, with panels tightly crammed with characters, words, and actions. The art has a kind of square and chunky look which reminded me a little of Adventure Time, except that it’s not as elongated. It’s vividly colored, and despite the small size of the panels the text is very readable. Many of the faces are small and use just black marks for features, but their emotions and actions can be inferred from the text and settings. This was originally published as comic strips in the UK for children and it certainly fits into that genre with each story wrapping up neatly with a gag and immediately recognizable characters – Monkey, Bunny, etc. reappearing in each strip.

The humor is irreverent and off the wall, just what fans of Dav Pilkey and Andy Griffiths will love and parents and teachers may look somewhat askance at. Some of the jokes and references are dated; Monkey taunts Bunny with screaming “like a girl” and all of the main characters default to male pronouns. The other drawback is that the book is currently only available in paperback and, although Scholastic’s paperbacks are usually fairly sturdy, at only 61 pages it may disappear on the shelf.

However, the characters and plots are funny, the inventions wild and wacky (I particularly like Caterpillarzilla) and elementary kids and those with a similar sense of humor will probably enjoy reading these stories. There’s even some subtle points about colonialism made with Monkey’s attempts to take over the animals’ forest and much of the humor involves how lightly different animals switch sides, depending on what they’re offered. The art and text is closely involved and requires both visual and textual literacy to catch all of the jokes. Hopefully, if the series proves to be popular in the US more complete editions and/or hardbacks will be available. If you are looking for more humorous graphic novels, this isn’t a bad choice to add to your collection.

Bunny vs. Monkey
by Jamie Smart
ISBN: 9780545861847
Scholastic, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: 7-10

  • Jennifer

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Matheson Memorial Library


    Jennifer Wharton is the Youth Services Librarian at Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn, Wisconsin where she maintains the juvenile and young adult graphic novel collections and was responsible for creating the library’s adult graphic novel collection. She is constantly looking for great new comics for kids and teens and new ways to incorporate graphic storytelling in programming. Jennifer blogs for preschool through middle grade at JeanLittleLibrary and has an MLS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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