is a children's book series written by James Howe
about a vampire
that sucks the juice out of vegetables. It is also the name of the first book in the series, published 1979 (ISBN 0-689-80659-0).
The story is centered on the Monroe family and their pets and is told from the perspective of their dog Harold. The Monroes find a bunny at the theater where they were watching a Dracula film. Because of this, they dub him Bunnicula. Their cat Chester, however, is convinced Bunnicula is a vampire and attempts to get Harold to help save the Monroes from the perceived menace.
A 1979 animated TV special (from Ruby-Spears) by the same name was created based on the first book and aired on the ABC Weekend Special. The animated special deviated heavily from the novels and actively depicted Bunnicula using vampiric powers, which did not occur in the novels.
The full name of the first book is Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery. The second and third books of the series are Howliday Inn and The Celery Stalks at Midnight. Nighty-Nightmare followed in 1987, followed by Return to Howliday Inn in 1993. In 1999, Bunnicula Strikes Again!, was published. Bunnicula Meets Edgar Allan Crow was published in 2006, and appears to be the final book in the Bunnicula series. Nighty-Nightmare shares a similar name to Nighty Nightmare, an episode of Garfield from the eighties.
Following the end of the Bunnicula series, James Howe began a spin-off series called Tales from the House of Bunnicula, which are 'written' by Howie, the dachsund puppy introduced into the series in Howliday Inn.
Characters throughout the series
- As the main character, despite Bunnicula being the title-bearing character, Harold is an old, scruffy and loving dog under the Monroes' care. He narrates the books, sometimes even humorously claiming he would not even write the books if it weren't for Bunnicula. He enjoys his life with the Monroe family, particularly with the youngest child Toby, always being a diligent and loyal pet. His longtime friend is Chester the cat, who also lives under the Monroe household. Harold has a strong affection for chocolate cupcakes
, as well as other typical snacks such as cheese crackers and fudge.
In the first book, Harold sees Bunnicula for the first time, as well as seeing a bunny for the first time. While Bunnicula's vampire-like activities do scare him a little, he holds no grudges against the bunny, even befriending him. Unluckily, Chester, who has an outrageously vivid imagination and is narrow-minded, thinks Bunnicula is a real
vampire and forces Harold to assist him to kill the rabbit. All attempts fail, and finally Harold goes against Chester's crazy attempts to do away with Bunnicula. Throughout the series, Harold is portrayed the same way, albeit being a bit dim-witted as the story progresses on (which subjects him to crude nicknames given to him by Chester). The other pet in the Monroe household is the care-free dachshund
puppy, Howie, and he admires both Harold and Chester, as well as Bunnicula. Harold is dubbed as "Uncle Harold" by the puppy. Thoughout the series, Harold remains unconvinced of Chester's belief that Bunnicula is a vampire, and constantly rebuffs the ideas Chester has regarding the rabbit.
Chester- The highly vivid cat who devours good literature. He was given to Mr. Monroe as a birthday present, and the name "Chester" was derived from G. K. Chesterton. Ever since Bunnicula's arrival, Chester becomes increasingly aware that the bunny could be a threat to the household ("Today parsnips, tomorrow the world!", he exclaims at one point in reference to Bunnicula's 'diabolical plans' when trying to convince Harold of his belief that Bunnicula is a vampire). Harold and eventually Howie objects to that notion, but Chester has remained firm that Bunnicula is a true vampire. Albeit an intellectual cat, he becomes carried away with his imagination and narrow-mindedness. He once tried to kill Bunnicula by using a steak (not a s-t-a-k-e), a mistake that always greets him with embarrassing memories. Another time he led Harold and Howie on a chase around Centerville, "murdering" vampire vegetables, which were in fact the leftover meals from Bunnicula. Too many times he made crazy attempts to eliminate Bunnicula, all of which naturally fail. He usually calls both of his canine friends "dolts", "simpletons", or "idiots." He is known not to apologize for his errors that greatly affect Harold, instead referring them as "a slight misinterpretation in the facts." He is also known as "Pop" to Howie. Despite having a tense relationship with Bunnicula, deep down he accepts him as one of the family, and in the final two books of the series, Bunnicula Strikes Again! and Bunnicula meets Edgar Allen Crow, becomes friends with Bunnicula. Chester was named Fluffy for a short time before.
Bunnicula- The bunny with strange eating habits and strange vampire-like qualities, Bunnicula came to the Monroe household on a dark, stormy night. Toby found him in the theater, which was at the time showing Dracula and brought him home, where Mrs. Monroe brought up the clever name Bunnicula. A note was placed with Bunnicula when he was found, written in russian reading 'please take care of my baby'. Only Harold is able to read the note. In the animated special, Bunnicula's name is written in the note itself, to avoid having the Monroes name him. The note is one of the few aspects of the novel to carry over into the animated special, as Bunnicula is found near a processing plant in the special. He is subjected to many murder attempts by Chester, who thinks the rabbit would actually become carnivorous. However, his "indestructible" stature proves to Chester that he cannot be killed. Bunnicula cannot talk- or at the very least he doesn't speak at any point in the series, indicating that he may be incapable of it- but exhibits similar physical emotions all the same, such as winking or crying. His eating habit enables him to bite onto vegetables and suck the juice out of them, similar to the method by which Dracula dines. Instead of buck teeth like all rabbits, Bunnicula has fangs. In the televised version, when Bunnicula goes into his vampiric form, he sprouts bat wings under his arms and his eyes turn yellow. His vampire powers include flight, hypnosis, levitation, and telekinesis. Chester's murder attempts do not take place in the special and he ultimately decides that the idea that Bunnicula is a vampire is 'ridiuclous', something which doesn't occur in the novels, and which has a touch of irony, since Bunnicula is blatently shown using his vampiric powers in the special, indicating that so far as the animated special is concerned, Chester was correct in his belief of Bunnicula's true nature. He remains part of the Monroe family, often treated with the utmost respect by everyone, including the other pets. Bunnicula, at the end of Nighty Nightmare is revealed to have produced a litter of offspring with a rabbit owned by a friend of Pete Monroe as part of a project for the novels' equivalent of the boy scouts. At least one of the offspring is stated by Pete as looking identical to Bunnicula, and was briefly mentioned again in Bunnicula meets Edger Allen Crow, where he was named "Sonnicula", due to his being the son of Bunnicula and carrying an identical appearance to his father. Sonnicula never made any direct appearances in the series, being referred to only twice in passing during the events in the series. In Nighty Nightmare, Chester's story implies that Bunnicula's parents were vampire rabbits who were created by a lonely vampire.
Howie- The young, care-free, and sometimes dim dachshund puppy who was adopted by the Monroes from Chataeu Bow-Wow. He was the runt of the litter and his parents were rare and valuable long-haired dachshunds (who Chester secretly suspected of being werewolves). He usually does not understand the seriousness of matters, thinking murdering vampire vegetables is a game and chasing Bunnicula is a race. He did not even know what a vampire was when Chester informed him about Bunnicula, though up to date he does not think the bunny is a danger. For an unknown reason, he calls Harold and Chester "Uncle Harold" and "Pop", respectively. His hobbies include chewing on the rug, eating, chasing cars, and barking.
Robert Monroe- He is the husband of Ann Monroe and the father of Peter and Toby Monroe. He works as a college professor, and his knack for reading classical literature enabled Chester to read as well. In the animated special, he is described by Harold as being a scientist, rather than a college professor, and works at the plant where Bunnicula is discovered.
Ann Monroe- She is Robert's wife and the mother of Peter and Toby Monroe. She thought up of the name Bunnicula by combining "Bunny" and "Dracula". Her occupation as a lawyer makes her a good and strict mother. In the animated special, Ann Monroe is not described as having any job other than being a housewife. She also does not name Bunnicula in the special, as the name is included in the note they find with him.
Peter Monroe- The oldest of two boys who slacks off often. He usually bullies his younger brother Toby and the pets, except for Bunnicula. Often selfish, Harold avoids him, but Howie finds him intriguing, mainly because of the books he reads. Chester finds him indifferent.
Toby Monroe- The youngest of two, he is more dignified and kinder than Peter. He likes to share his snacks with Harold during his late-night readings, and is adored by Chester and Howie.
At the movie theater, the Monroe family finds a rabbit in a shoebox, which they name Bunnicula. Harold the dog takes a liking to the new pet, but Chester the cat remains suspicious. Because of the odd fur markings and fang-like teeth, Chester suspects Bunnicula of being a vampire. When vegetables begin to turn up drained of their juice, Chester fears that Bunnicula will become a threat to people as well as vegetables. He first attempts to warn the Monroe family of the danger and then decides to take matters into his own hands by recruiting Harold to help him slay the rabbit (in various unsuccesful ways). After Harold refuses to aide Chester any longer, the cat begins to steal Bunnicula's food and block him from the kitchen, cutting off the rabbit's food supply. Feeling sorry for Bunnicula, Harold brings him into the dining room to feast on the Monroe's salad. When Chester tries to stop him, the Monroes walk in and break up the fighting. All of the pets are taken to the vet. Bunnicula is diagnosed as being unable to digest solid food and is given an all-liquid diet, which satisfies Chester as he believes it will keep Bunnicula tame.
When the Monroe family decides to leave for a vacation, they send Harold and Chester off to a kennel called Chataeu Bow-Wow (A special boarding house for special cats and dogs). There, they meet the other inhabitants of the kennel: A frustrated poodle named Louise, an athletic bulldog, a mutt named Taxi, a crazy cat named Lyle, a flirtateous poodle named Georgia, and two dachshunds named Heather and Howard, who Chester is certain are werewolves. In the midst of adapting to their temporary new lives, a mystery soon unfolds when Louise goes missing. Although the kennel workers decide she ran away, Chester becomes certain that foul play was involved. Just when he seems to have solved the mystery, Chester too vanishes. When investigating, Harold overhears Harrison, one of the kennel workers, reporting that he tested Chester's cat food and that it was laced with poison. Horrified, Harold attempts to continue Chester's work and solve the mystery. One evening, Harold finds the message "Help Howls out now!" scratched into his dog dish. Later, Chester mysteriously arrives, with Taxi and Lyle at tow. He leads them and Harold to find Harrison attempting to capture Heather and Howard. The animals raise the alarm and Harrison is caught by the other kennel workers. Chester tells Harold later that Harrison caught wind that one of the animals in the shelter was very valuable. He first kidnapped Louise and then Chester thinking that it could have been them, but found out that it was the dachshunds, who were actually rare long-haired dachshunds. He also learned that Heather was going to have puppies, making him even more determined to capture them all to get rich. When the Monroe family arrives after their vacation, they reveal that they're also adopting the runt of the dachshund litter, which they name Howie - after the eerie howl he inherited from his parents.
The Celery Stalks at Midnight
Bunnicula has gone missing and Chester begins to fear for the town again. This time, he believes that the vegetables that Bunnicula sucks dry could return as the rabbit's vampire slaves. Armed with a box of toothpicks to stab through the "hearts" of vegetables, he, Harold, and Howie set off to search the neighborhood for white vegetables. After some succes, they witness Toby and Pete wearing dark robes and holding a group of frightened children prisoner. The pets fear that Bunnicula has begun to take over people as well and run to the nearby school, which is full of what they suspect are the rabbit's servants. After causing much mayhem (including Chester destroying a large white carrot, which he believes is the head of the undead vegetables), they are caught by the Monroes. It is revealed that there was a carnival at the school that day and Toby and Pete and the other children were rehearsing for a play they were going to put on. The "carrot" that Chester destroyed was actually a carrot cake, shaped like a carrot and covered in cream cheese. Finally, Bunnicula was found at the school, entered in the pet show. The pets find out that Bunnicula spent the previous night in the garage, which was accidentally left open, leaving Chester to worry that all of the white vegetables were indeed found and speared.
Return to Howliday Inn
The Monroe family again leaves Harold, Chester, and Howie at Chataeu Bow-Wow. The pets quickly notice differences, including a new group of animals staying there (a weasel, two cats named Felony and Miss Demeanor, a sad Great Dane named Hamlet, a pair of homesick dogs, and a parakeet named Ditto). Howie is thrilled to be at his birthplace; Chester is none too pleased. Soon however, all of the animals are in for a shock - They hear a female dog named Rosebud calling from the other side of the fence. When they dig at the dirt around the fence, they find a few bones and a dog collar. Rosebud tells them that she discovered a horrid secret about Chataeu Bow-Wow which sealed her fate and warns the animals to escape. Undaunted, Chester begins to investigate. After listening in on Ditto, he hears her repeated "6, 1, 1, 1, 5". Later, she repeats what appears to be the entire sequence of numbers: "6, 1, 1, 1, 5, 2". Upon hearing this, Felony and Miss Demenor are thrilled. When asked, they reluctantly reveal that they wanted to sneak into the kennel worker's building to steal better food and believed that the code would get them in. Shortly after, a tearful kennel worker takes Hamlet into the building. Georgia is brought to Chataeu Bow-Wow and tells the animals the true story of Rosebud: She was alive and well and back with her owners. The bones were chicken bones and her coller had been lost prior. The animals enter the building and find Hamlet, who tells them that his old owner left him there a long time ago. He was now set to be put to sleep. Chester finds his owner's new address and they set off to bring Hamlet there. The new address turns out to be a nursing home, one which does not allow animals. The pets break in and in the chaos, it becomes clear that the patients love the arrival of the animals, who remind them of their old pets. Hamlet finds his old owner, and it is revealed that the owner was a ventrioquist, explaining how Hamlet caused "Rosebud" to speak. Using ventrioquism of their own, the pets and patients convince the staff of the nursing home to allow Hamlet to stay. When Harold, Chester, and Howie are picked up at the end, they fool the Monroes with the ventrioquism tricks they picked up.