Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming
Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!
by Candace Fleming
Illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Topics: gardening, rabbits, vegetables
For some time, Mr. McGreely has dreamed of "growing yummy vegetables, and of gobbling them all up." He decides that this spring is the time to plant "Lettuce! Carrots! Peas! Tomatoes!". He can't wait to eat them. Then, one night, three hungry bunnies find his garden and "Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!". Mr McGreely is angry to find his veggies nibbled, so he builds a "small wire fence" to keep the bunnies out. The cheerful bunnies "hurdle' the fence easily, so Mr. McGreely builds a tall wooden fence. The bunnies tunnel under the fence so he digs a moat, and eventually builds "a huge, enormous thing" - a grey-stoned tower - which eventually stops the bunnies. But, the bunnies hide out in his vegetable basket and... "Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!".
This story has great ingredients for both younger and older children. There's lots of repetition to anchor younger children - "when the sun went down and the moon came up" means the bunnies are coming, the increasing anger of Mr. McGreely (first he's angry, then really angry, then really, really angry) and extensive use of onomatopoeic words (words that sound like the thing they describe) : "muncha! muncha! muncha!" , "tippy-tippy-tippy", "scratch! scratch! scratch!" etc. It's also a cummulative story - first Mr. McGreely builds a wire fence, then a wooden fence around the wire fence, then a moat around the wooden fence, and then, of course, the bunnies have to swim, tunnel, and hurdle the various obstacles in their way. Older children will appreciate Mr. McGreely's increasing effort to protect his veggies and on-going optimism about his latest barricade, the funny rabbit names (the culprits go from bunnies, to "flop-ears", "puff-tails" , and finally "twitch-whiskers") and Mr. McG's "jiggly, wiggly victory dance".
The illustrations are scratchy and scribbly pencil drawings colored with paint, mostly muted greens, yellows, and greys. The drawings of Mr McGreely are reminiscent of the sketches of a 12 year old. There's a cheeky humor throughout the book --the three rabbits sneakily watching Mr. Mc G's daytime barricade activities, Mr. McGreely dreams of a carrot while the bunnies raid. There's also a lot of scale humor--Mr McGreely's giant mouth when he gets really, really angry, the size of the barricades compared to the veggie garden being protected, the giant moat being filled by a small garden hose.
Adults will also appreciated the pro-vegetable and gardening storyline. After all, the battle being fought here is over yummy vegetables!
Candace Fleming is a historian who has written a number of children's books including A Big Cheese For the Whitehouse, Ben Franklin's Almanac, and Gabriella's Song.
G. Brian Karas has illustrated over 50 children's books including Ten Little Mummies, Atlantic, and Sleepless Beauty.