Book Review: A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, written by Jill Twiss and illustrated by EG Keller

by Brittany B. | 11/20/2019

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, written by Jill Twiss and illustrated by EG Keller, is maybe one of the most adorable things I’ve ever read. This children’s book follows Marlon Bundo, the real-life rabbit of the Pence family, on his Very Special Day and it had me smiling the whole time with how obnoxiously cute it was:

100 percent of Last Week Tonight‘s proceeds will be donated to The Trevor Project and AIDS United.

HBO’s Emmy winning Last Week Tonight with John Oliver presents a children’s picture book about a Very Special boy bunny who falls in love with another boy bunny. 

Meet Marlon Bundo, a lonely bunny who lives at the Naval Observatory with his ADitLoMB-BCGrampa, the Vice President of the United States. But on this Very Special Day, Marlon’s life is about to change forever…

Marlon Bundo is a very fun bunny who recently relocated to Washington, D.C. from his home in Indiana. He enjoys hopping through the garden, eating all his vegetables, and hula-hooping.

With its message of tolerance and advocacy, this charming bunny book for kids explores issues of same sex marriage and democracy. Sweet, funny, and beautifully illustrated, this better Bundo book is dedicated to every bunny who has ever felt different.

This book is an absolute joy to read and one I would highly recommend to anyone who has children in their life. The story follows Marlon Bundo, who is the name of Vice President Mike Pence’s actual family bunny, on his Very Special Day when he meets and falls in love with another boy bunny, Wesley. It shows the support from their friends, the obstacle they come up against, and how they as a community overcome it so that Marlon and Wesley can get married and hop together for the rest of their lives.

For those of you who don’t know, A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo was written by Jill Twiss, who is one of the writers for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. The book was launched as a counter to another publication that the Pence family published about Marlon Bundo. The move was calculated by the Last Week Tonight team, and the book was released the day before the Pence family book was. The beauty of it, though, is that the Last Week Tonight crew published the book not only out of spite for the Vice President and his negative stances and policies against the LGBTQ+ community but donated the proceeds of the book sales to two groups that directly help the LGBTQ+ community (The Trevor Project and AIDS United).

John Oliver and the crew of Last Week Tonight, explain it better in the original episode segment:

Even though the episode aired back in March 2018, as of this review posting, the website “betterbundobook.com” is still live and actively linking folks to places to purchase the book and audiobook (and “focusonthefurmily.com” automatically routes users to betterbundobook.com).

The story is quick and to the point, taking less than ten minutes to read. With it being so short and meant for young children, there isn’t much to say about it critically. I, as an adult, enjoy it for several reasons – I caught myself legitimately squealing in delight at the names of the animals (with names Dill Prickle the hedgehog, the two otters named Muffins and Cubby, a mouse named Hiccup, and the wedding officiate, Pajama the cat). The quick story touches on the importance of community and friends, that people in charge aren’t always right, and that voting is an essential part of social change. And, the lesson that made me go “aww,” was:

“Hooray!” said all of our friends. Because that is what friends say.

That small line was repeated twice in the story and stuck out to me because it rings of friendship and found family, and those things are important, especially when you’re someone who may be ostracized from your own family for being different.

I also really enjoy it because how it was aimed to outperform the Pence’s family book and how unapologetically queer it is.  It brings me the same joy of donating to Planned Parenthood in his name. And if that’s not your thing, that’s cool – we all gotta do what we gotta do to get through the day and this administration. The best part, though? It worked! Last Week Tonight wanted to outsell the Pence’s book, and it definitely did! A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo is on the Amazon’s best seller’s list, and is currently, as of this posting, #1 in Amazon’s Children’s Rabbit Books (Kindle Store) Category. In contrast, Pence’s book is ranked #129 in the same category. (Okay, that is a super specific category. To give it a different weight of how well it sold in comparison, it is currently ranked on Amazon Best Sellers Paid Kindle books at #8,829, and Pence’s book is ranked #595,982.)

Politics and spite aside, let’s get back to what the kids might care about, shall we? This illustrated book is not only adorably written but is also excellently illustrated. The images have a rustic watercolor quality to them that gives ample characterization to the animals of the story. The colors are vibrant, the movement is dynamic, and the use of perspective helps demonstrate “who has power” in certain scenes by making antagonistic characters bigger or smaller. 

Here is just a small smattering of examples of the illustrations from this book (I tried to include ones that weren’t readily available on the Amazon Preview):

MBundo2
Image Description: Marlon Bundo and Wesley holding hands, looking up into the shadow of the stink bug, which is on top of a podium. Marlon and Wesley look confused.

 

MBundo3
Image Description: a group of animals stands together, shouting, “You are not in charge!” to a stink bug who is flying out of frame. From left to right, there is Pumpernickel the badger, Phil and Dennis the bugs on Scooter the turtle’s back, Marlon Bundo, Wesley, Dill Prickle the hedgehog, and Mr. Paws who is a very good dog.

 

MBundo5
The text reads We ate and drank and danced “The Hokey Pokey.” | Image Description: Dill Prickle the hedgehog dressed in a suit jacket and tie, dancing with a mug in his hand, two “grooms-otters” (Muffins and Cubby) standing handing in hand in white suit jackets, black tie and pants with roses on their lapels, and Hiccup the “flower-mouse” in a yellow dress and pearls holding a small bouquet of flowers.

This book is genuinely adorable and will make your heart swell with its cast of characters. The story is simple yet important and teaches a much bigger lesson than merely it’s okay to be gay or to be different; it shows that by banding together, a community can change unjust things. And it’s never too early to teach kids about the importance of voting! And, I mean, who can argue with these A-List reviews, huh? I sure can’t.

MBundo4
Image description: the back of Marlon Bundo, sitting in the grass with four short reviews to the right. Text Reads: “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo is a masterpiece. A real tour de force of great litera. . .ooh, a castle!” – Bubbles the Goldfish | “This Book was delicious!” – anonymous grizzly bear | “I know garbage. I’ve spent my life in garbage. And Marlon Bundo is not garbage!” – Waffles the Raccoon | “Ugh.” – every cat

 

Rating: 5 rainbows
5 out of 5 Rainbows

Recommended Reader: Anyone with a small child or children in their life looking for a quick and cute story that will teach something in its simplicity. Or adults looking to donate a book to a school or library, knowing the proceeds of their purchase will be donated to The Trevor Project and AIDS United.

You can find more from:
     -Jill Twiss on Twitter and their website;
     -EG Keller on Twitter, Instagram, and their website;
     -Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO or YouTube and on Twitter.

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