Buddy and the Bunnies in
Don't Play with Your Food!
By Bob Shea
(Disney-Hyperion, Hardcover, 9781423168072, 40pp.)
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
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Rah! Buddy's a monster, and he's hungry! Time for all cute little bunnies to hop into his mouth. "Oh no!" they say. "There are cupcakes in the oven!" They offer Buddy some, and he becomes too full to eat the bunnies. He'll have to come back tomorrow. And so it goes between Buddy and the bunnies--they take him swimming, after which he is too tired to eat; they take him on all the rides at a carnival, after which he is too dizzy to eat; they even form a Buddy fan club . . . and who could eat their own fan club? Eventually Buddy realizes that the bunnies have tricked him. The bunnies aren't food at all--they are friends!
The bunnies' seemingly naive offers of friendship are a charming--and clever--mode of survival in this sweet and silly story about a not-at-all-scary monster.
Bob Shea is the author-illustrator of several picture books on the Disney-Hyperion list, such as UNICORN THINKS HE'S PRETTY GREAT, and four books in the DINOSAUR VS. series. He also created animations, graphics, and logos that have been seen on Comedy Central, PBS, Nick Jr., and Noggin. He and his wife, Colleen, run their own graphic design company called Perfectly Nice, and their son Ryan inspired the character Dinosaur. When Bob isn't out on the road promoting his books, he lives and works in Madison, Connecticut.
Like the dinosaur in Shea's Dinosaur Vs. books and the shark in I'm a Shark (2011), Buddy, a bunnyeating monster, should be big and scary, but instead he is packed with goofy charisma that kids will find irresistible. Buddy is a great big orange-striped monster who shows up and announces that he is going to dine on all bunnies present. The bunnies, however, are just about to bake some cupcakes. Like any sensible, hungry monster, Buddy decides "cupcakes first. Bunnies for dessert." When he is finished with the cupcakes, though, he has no room left for bunnies, and he promises to come back tomorrow. And so it goes, through one trick after another, as Buddy is outsmarted, until he finally realizes that the bunnies make better friends than tasty treats. Shea's crazy humor pervades the book, from the hilarious back and forth between potential diner and would-be meal to his floppy, exaggerated art, filled with warm colors and cheery personality. Adults will be delighted to share this with young readers. - Jesse Karp—Booklist
PreS-Gr 3 Buddy, a monster, has no use for flowers, trees, or pretty much anything in nature. What he really wants is bunnies. "I'm going to eat all you bunnies!" he announces to three rabbits. They convince him to play hide-and-seek until their cupcakes come out of the oven and, after munching the goodies, he's too full to eat bunnies. "Would you bunnies mind if I eat you tomorrow?" he asks. The next day they entice him to go swimming before he eats them. "You musn't go swimming right after you eat! You'll get a cramp!" Then "they look so cute when they're napping" after their swim that he can't possibly eat them. Next the bunnies form a "Stripey-Stripe Club" in Buddy's honor and vote to spend a day at the carnival, which makes him too dizzy to eat them. "Okay, no more fooling around./Today I'm going to eat you bunnies first thing," he declares next day. But the bunnies, in a delightful surprise ending, have an argument their nemesis just can't refute. This is a hilarious romp made all the more enjoyable by Shea's cartoons outlined in black crayon. Buddy is a small orange fellow with bulging eyes and a cavernous mouth, ever seeking a tasty bunny treat. Backgrounds change continually and are often decorated with stars, curlicues, and other symbols. The carnival day, depicted on black ground, is especially bold. Alert readers will notice the bunnies keep multiplying. Pair this laugh-out-loud caper with Linda Bailey's Toads on Toast (Kids Can, 2012). Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT—SLJ
There's no pretense when Buddy the Monster arrives on the scene: "I'm going to eat all you bunnies!" he announces. The bunnies, however, cleverly insist that they were just about to make cupcakes, and they play hide-and-seek with Buddy until the treats are baked, at which point Buddy eats five cupcakes-and then four more-making him too full to eat the bunnies. Each day he returns, and each day the ever-growing group of bunnies distracts Buddy, until the bunnies remind Buddy that he shouldn't play with his food-and maybe they can be friends, instead. Shea has gained acclaim with boisterous silly/scary protagonists, as in Dinosaur vs. Bedtime (BCCB 10/08), and he hits the same tone with Buddy, a furry Sweetums-esque blob of ochre and orange stripes whose exclamations will induce plenty of chuckles, especially if read aloud ("Hey, guys! Hop in my mouth so I can eat you!"). The illustrations, digitally rendered with rough, oil pastel-inspired outlines and autumnal hues of fuchsia, forest green, and violet, augment the exuberance, their shifting viewpoints (one picture looks out from Buddy's mouth at the rabbits) adding energy. The bunnies-white thumbprints with ears and arms-are both cute and abstract, which adds to their growing goofiness as a group actor. Youngsters will love being in on the bunnies' sly ways, and this would also pair well with Willems' Leonardo the Terrible Monster (BCCB 2/05) for a friendly monster readaloud. TA—BCCB
The book hasn't even started yet and already Buddy the monster is making threats, roaring his way through the opening endpapers, the title and copyright pages, and into the story, where he yells at some cute little rabbits, "I'm going to eat all you bunnies!" "Oh, no!" they cry, but then they persuade him to eat some cupcakes instead-so many cupcakes that he has no room for bunnies. The next day, Buddy is back to eat them, but they suggest going for a swim first, and so it goes for several days, as the ever-increasing number of bunnies form a club in his honor and take him to the carnival. By the end, Buddy realizes how terrible he would feel if he lost his companions (by eating them), and the closing endpapers show the monster dancing instead of roaring, surrounded by dozens of rabbit friends. Shea works visual humor into every page, beginning with the raucous and not-very-scary monster, using little black lines to show energetic motion and the tilt of an ear to indicate emotion. This rambunctious story won't get kids settled in for bedtime, but it will sure make reading time a treat. susan dove lempke—Horn Book
Buddy is one cranky, hungry monster. He yells at the mountains, the trees and even the sun. "You're not so hot, SUN!" But whom does he like to yell at the most? Bunnies! He's going to eat them up. "No, please, no!" the bunnies quiver. "We were about to make cupcakes!" Buddy, not one to fall for trickery, declares, "Cupcakes first. Bunnies for dessert." But of course, after eating nine cupcakes, he's far too full to eat another bite. He promises to return for the bunnies the next day. Thus, the manipulation continues. The bunnies take him swimming so he's too tired to eat them. Then they form the Stripey-Stripe Club-in honor of Buddy and his orange stripes! Buddy is having so much fun with the bunnies that he forgets the old adage: Don't play with your food. Well, now he can't eat the bunnies because they have become his friends! Buddy, the chubby little monster, looks suspiciously similar to a certain red dinosaur (Dinosaur vs. Bedtime, 2008, etc.) and has the bravado to match. The ending goes a beat too far, but Shea's storytelling still shines. Children often see themselves as the underdog in an adultcentric world; they'll be rooting for the bunnies (all three no wait, 72 of them). (Picture book. 3-6)—Kirkus
The star of Shea's Dinosaur vs. books may dominate his foes, but not so with shaggy, orange-striped, and ill-tempered Buddy the monster, who tries and fails to eat a passel of cute, white bunnies. "No, please, no! We were about to make cupcakes!" three bunnies wail, stopping him in his tracks. "They played hide-and-seek while the cupcakes baked," and Buddy fills up on treats. He returns the next day, and five bunnies propose that they go swimming. "If you bunnies are half as delicious as you are nice, I am in for a treat," Buddy admits. The next day, seven bunnies take him to the carnival (sticking to "spinny, whippy rides" that give Buddy an upset stomach), and the next, eleven admonish him with the book's sideways title. With recent longer comedies like this one and Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great, Shea's digital art and one-joke narratives have blossomed. While this romp predictably favors the underdogs, Shea's energized colors, subtle background textures, and manic visuals keep the eye moving, while the shouty dialogue, hapless monster, and sneaky rabbits amplify the silly suspense. Ages 4 8.—PW