Parents need to know that “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo,” presented by HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver and written by Jill Twist, is a picture book that celebrates inclusiveness and democracy and embraces same-sex marriage, in this case between two bunnies. Provocative comedian Oliver published this book to coincide with the publication of a similarly titled book written by Vice President Mike Pence’s daughter (featuring his real-life family pet rabbit, which is named Marlon Bundo) as a response to Pence’s on-the-record positions on same-sex marriage and other LGBTQ issues.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
“A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo,” the adorable black-and-white bunny of that name, who sports a rainbow-colored bow tie, lives in the home of Vice President Mike Pence, whom he calls Grandpa. (The vice president is pictured twice: once, just from the shoulders to his hips, holding Marlon, and once in a meeting, shown from the shoulders down sitting at a desk next to two other men in suits). Marlon is lonely until he meets a bespectacled brown bunny named Wesley and spends a day having lots of fun with him, hopping around inside and out. They tell each other they never want to hop without the other and say, “We will get married and hop together Forever.” They tell their animal and insect friends, who respond to the news with “Hooray!” But then The Stink Bug, who’s “In Charge,” yells from his podium, “You can’t get married! … Boy Bunnies Marry Girl Bunnies. Girl Bunnies Marry Boy Bunnies. This is the Way It Has Always Been. You. Are. Different. And Different Is Bad.” The other animals speak up to say how each one of them is different in their own way and decide to take a vote on who’s in charge, The Stink Bug or “Not The Stink Bug.” The Stink Bug gets voted out, and the bunnies get their wedding, with their animal friends in attendance and in the ceremony. Comedian John Oliver, whose team created the book written by Jill Twist, is donating all its proceeds to the Trevor Project, a national 24-hour, toll-free confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth, and AIDS United, which funds projects to combat the AIDS epidemic worldwide. The audiobook version, read by Jim Parsons with special guests including John Lithgow, is available on Audible.
IS IT ANY GOOD?
This cute, funny, and inclusive picture book has a positive message about celebrating who you are and loving whom you want. “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo” takes a positive view of same-sex marriage and pokes fun at Vice President Mike Pence, giving The Stink Bug his hair color and style. But young readers probably won’t make that connection.
Oliver, star of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver, released this book the same day that “Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice President” — written by Pence’s daughter Charlotte Pence and illustrated by his wife, Karen Pence — as a sort of prank inspired by Pence’s stances on same-sex marriage and other LGTBQ issues. But even without that backdrop, the book works as a gentle story about falling in love and wanting to make a commitment. It sends a positive message to kids that they can be proud of who they are and love whom they want. It also introduces the basics of democracy in an age-appropriate way.
RATING AND CONTENT
Recommended for ages 4 and older
Quality: 4 out of 5
Educational value: 3 out of 5
Positive messages: 5 out of 5
Positive role models: 5 out of 5
Violence and scariness: 0 out of 5
Language: 0 out of 5
Author: Jill Twiss
Illustrator: EG Keller
Genre: Picture book
Book type: Fiction
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication date: March 19, 2018
Number of pages: 40