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I found The Celery Stalks at Midnight by James Howe on the street and brought it home for my MoonPie. A street-found book may not sweep most fellows off their feet, but this was one of his favorite books growing up. I know because he’s told me a million times. Well, hint received. MoonPie was thoroughly swept and appreciated the worn 1983 copy, the same edition he had as a kid.

The Celery Stalks at Midnight

The Celery Stalks at Midnight

The pages of this copy are golden and dark around the edges. They’re so fragile they sound like they may crack. You can tell this copy has been read many times, which is fitting for a children’s classic.

This is my first Bunnicula book and I didn’t know what to expect, but I loved the opening:

It was not a dark and stormy night. Indeed, there was nothing in the elements to foreshadow the events that lay ahead.

The story is about one family’s well-meaning, dramatic, paranoid pets (Harold the dog and narrator, Howie the dachshund puppy and Chester the cat) who have reason to believe the family’s rabbit is a vegetable-sucking vampire rapidly turning the town’s gardens into a ravenous horde of zombies. The logic is sound when you consider that there have been an unusually high number of white vegetables popping up, white because they’ve had the life juices sucked out of them, of course.

Then Bunnicula goes missing and the family is too distracted to notice. It’s up to Harold, Howie and Chester to stop Bunnicula before he bites and enslaves every vegetable in town. It’s a lot to take on, but they’re up to the task. Or are they?

Naturally, Chester the cat is the one pulling the strings, but Howie is ever-enthusiastic to charge full speed ahead. The three strong personalities create a lively push-and-pull dynamic. The personalities are true to how these types of animals are often perceived. The cat is intelligent, aloof and full of bad ideas. The puppy is naive and the older dog is reluctant, but always endearing and protective.

A classic, bumbling adventure story, the three wreak some havoc. As their perception of danger increases, so does their impulsiveness. It’s a humorous book filled with a few beautiful illustrations. While part of the Bunnicula series, this one stands alone if you haven’t read the others (I hadn’t). The Celery Stalks at Midnight will be a fun book to read with my nieces this fall. They find anything scary if you turn off their star lights and speak in a deep voice.

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