Review: Nighty-Nightmare by James Howe (Bunnicula # 4)

My special Halloween treat of reviewing all the books in the Bunnicula series continues with book number 4, Nighty-Nightmare!


An overnight camping trip! Not Harold’s idea of fun. Too many mosquitoes, ticks and cockleburs. But when the Monroe family set out, their faithful dog Harold was with them, mostly because he remembered that camping could also bring s’mores and toasted marshmallows. Howie, the other family dog, and Chester the cat were also included in the trip. Only Chester thought the idea was completely insane. The woods, he informed Harold, were not only full of cockleburs and ticks, but of spirits, evil spirits who prey on the innocent. And on this, the worst night of the year — St. George’s Eve, when all spirits are set loose — who knew what could happen. What Harold knew was that Chester was a well read, over-stimulated cat, full of weird ideas. He did not take Chester’s worries too seriously. He had s’more to think about. But then, the Monroes set up camp near two strange men and their even stranger dog, and things began to happen that made even Harold wonder. Could Chester be right? This begins a long night, full of terrors and alarms, full of Chester’s horrifying tale of how Bunnicula, the vampire bunny, was born and came to America, full of storms and a total sense of danger; and at the end came surprises that even Chester could not have predicted.

Nighty- Nightmare by James Howe.  Book # 4 in the Bunnicula series.  Illustrated by Leslie Morrill.  Originally published in 1987, my version was the Avon Camelot October 1988 edition.  122 pages.

Well, the vampire bunny did not go on this adventure, but we still get a little story about his possible origins.  The Monroe’s pets (minus the bunny) accompany the family on a camping trip.  The family runs in to two brothers and their dog who are also camping in the same location.  The brothers, Bud and Spud, are basically odd duck hillbillies and their dog, named Dawg, seems kinda vacant.  Leave it to the cat, Chester, to fear for the families life.  When Harold, Chester, and Howie get lost in the woods with Dawg, Chester thinks the brothers and their dog are out to actually harm the Monroes, and did I mention he feels the forest is haunted as well?

At first, I thought to myself, man… nothing really seems to be going on in this book.  The family pets are just meandering around the woods with Dawg.  But Nighty- Nightmare actually turned out to be a heart-warming story about family and judging people who are different (a familiar theme from book 1).  The “hillbillies” Bud and Spud actually turn out to be an architect and a lawyer named Buford and Spalding.  They got the nicknames Bud and Spud from their college days.  They turned out to be very nice people who saved the family from a terrible storm.  Just because someone talks “weird” doesn’t mean they aren’t educated, and it doesn’t mean that they are bad people.  It turned out to be a sweet little story.


The illustrations are done by Leslie Morrill again.  Man, I love this guys work! It is really amazing.  He has just the right contrast balance between the light and the shadows.  The faces always have such emotion.  Really beautiful work.  In Nighty-Nightmare there is this captivating family portrait of Bunnicula and his mom and dad. Just. BEAUTIFUL!! I’m calling it now…. This is by far my favorite picture in the whole series.


My only complaint about Nighty-Nightmare was that the “origin” story about Bunnicula was kinda depressing. D:  Lots of bunnies died, and it was just filled with loneliness and longing to belong.  Geez.  Super sad…   Other then that, it was a fun little adventure with a fair amount of creepy tension.

Book # 4 was a very entertaining addition to the Bunnicula series.  It would have been nice to have more about the vampire bunny, but at least we got to hear a little side story about him.  Decent amount of tension and a great lesson to learn about not being a judgey jerk when meeting people who seem a little different.  Nighty-Nightmare was pretty enjoyable.



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