A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo
My love of love stories began at a very young age. I started by reading every iteration of fairy tales with an HEA I could find in the library. East of the Sun, West of the Moon; Twelve Dancing Princesses; Melisande – those were among my favorites and I would read them over and over and over. Most copies of these tales are accompanied by gorgeous illustrations, so they inspired a love of art in me as well. As an adult, I still love looking at beautifully illustrated children’s love stories and the one which most recently caught my eye was A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo.
Marlon Bundo is Vice President Pence’s rabbit. He finds life lonely in the big, old house in which he lives and one day, while taking a bounce outside, he meets Wesley. Well, he sees him first. Wesley is all a bunny should be – he has the floppiest ears and the bushiest tail. Marlon hops over to introduce himself and the two go on a very long hop together. As Marlon says, “It was the Best Hop.” At the end of the hop, Marlon realizes something: he never wants to hop without Wesley again. So, the two determine to get married, and all their friends congratulate them. Except one. The stink bug in charge lets them know in clear terms that boy bunnies must only marry girl bunnies. It’s a conundrum. Marlon loves Wesley and only wants to hop with him – what should he do now?
The first thing that attracted me to the book was the production quality. Sweet, clear prose and beautiful illustrations captured my interest but one listen to the Audible version stole my heart. Jim Parsons – of Big Bang Theory fame – has the perfect voice to portray a happy young bunny and John Lithgow is fabulous as the stink bug; his dramatic rendering of an angry insect is perfection. The story is fantastic when read aloud and that is important for a children’s book. They need to sound as terrific as they look.
Messages or morals displayed in a kid’s book have been an area of great controversy over the last several years and can be a very tricky issue. The fairy tales I grew up with, for example, have been accused of giving women the wrong idea about what’s important in life. A friend of mine found the use of the word ‘assets’ in Miss Spider’s Wedding deeply offensive. I thought the Rainbow Fish, a book supposedly about sharing, hadn’t thoroughly thought through its message since some of the fish were downright greedy and jealous. Also, didn’t it emphasize flashy appearance over being satisfied with your own looks? Whatever. Not every book is going to be for everyone, but I think many families will appreciate the message within this one. It’s a strong stance in favor of gay marriage but done in a playful, child-friendly, and understandable way.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Marlon Bundo is at the heart of some controversy. Charlotte Pence, the Vice President’s daughter and Second Lady Karen Pence recently released a story written from Marlon’s view point called A Day in the Life of the Vice President. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, produced by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, was no doubt released to compete with that tale. However, that doesn’t change the fact that production values of this volume are excellent. From the writing to the illustrations to the story value (in terms of telling an entertaining tale), this is a great book.
For those interested, all proceeds are earmarked for The Trevor Project and AIDS United.
We live in a multi-cultural world and gay marriage is a part of our modern reality. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo is a gentle, sweet way to entertain a child while opening up the possibility of a discussion on that subject. It’s also a great way to remind kids that love stories are appropriate tales to tell, too. It doesn’t all have to be saving the world or learning big lessons. Sometimes it can just be about finding the right people to hop through life with.