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'Pat the Bunny' Gets Zombie Makeover

Feb 21, 2011 – 7:56 AM
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It takes a lot of guts to remake a classic. Guts and, apparently, blood, rotting flesh and oozing entrails.

At least that's the freaky formula that was used by lifelong pals Aaron Ximm and Kaveh Soofi to create "Pat the Zombie: A Cruel Adult Spoof" -- a bloody weird parody of the beloved children's book "Pat the Bunny," originally penned by author Dorothy Kunhardt in 1940.

You remember "Pat the Bunny." It's that sugary sweet, touch-and-feel classic for babies and toddlers about an innocent little girl named Judy, an angelic little boy named Paul and a cute, fluffy bunny.

As Judy and Paul demonstrate simple actions such as "patting" the bunny, young readers are urged to perform the tasks themselves by touching and feeling the pages, which include faux patches of the bunny's fur, pieces of fabric and other interactive elements.

"Pat the Zombie" does the same exact thing, only with a bit more edge -- and much more blood.

Instead of a bunny to be "patted" with Judy, the critter in this updated version is now a rotting zombie bunny. Oh, and instead of caressing the fluffy little guy, readers are encouraged to "gut" him.

Another putrid page features that curious old Paul searching the zombie bunny's remains.

The original tale had Paul smelling flowers -- complete with a pleasant, do-it-yourself scratch-and-sniff patch -- but in the zombified version, the reader scratches and sniffs a patch of zombie remains that's supposed to smell like rotting flesh.

Disturbed yet?

Ximm and Soofi, who both happen to be dads to young kids, told AOL News that their idea for the sick spoof came as a result of feeling a little bit like zombies themselves.

The duo said they've both been reading the original "Pat the Bunny" to their kids for years and admitted that after so many nights of reading the cutesy classic, they finally snapped.

"As as parent to a 3-year-old daughter, I've read 'Pat the Bunny' a million times. You can only read the original so many times before you start to feel like a zombie yourself. We thought the plot could be much improved with the addition of a few rotting undead characters and guts," explained Ximm.

"Our version isn't meant for kids. Really, it's a gift for young parents, like us, who are a little burnt out on the original and enjoy dry humor. It's a good read for after the kids are in bed," added Soofi.

For the playful pair, "zombifying" the classic tale made perfect sense. Ximm said they've always had an affinity for zombie art and campy zombie movies, especially since his bachelor party 10 years ago.

"For some odd reason, Kaveh and our friends decided to show a zombie porn at my bachelor party. We've had a weird connection to zombies ever since," joked Ximm.

Soofi, who's a graphic artist by trade, said zombie imagery appeals to him as an artist. He illustrated the "Pat the Zombie" book with this in mind, while also trying to mimic the original tale.

"We were lucky enough to work with the same printing house as 'Pat the Bunny,' so I had great references to rely on. I was looking at the original book the whole time while I was illustrating our version so I could get the details as close as possible. Paul and Judy look the same -- I just added some extra eyeballs and entrails," explained Soofi.

The authors said finding the right materials for the touch-and-feel pages was the toughest task since they wanted to keep the spoof fairly close to the original.

Soofi said the initial tactile material they wanted for the "guts" was too sticky to use, so they went with a lumpy, fur-like fabric instead. They also put a finger-sized hole through one of the pages so readers could put their finger "through Mummy's skull," just as Paul does on the previous page.

Although the dad duo had their own built-in focus groups at home, they said they never ran the macabre parody by their own kids. In fact, when the finished product was mailed to his house, Soofi said he had strict orders from his wife to keep the book away from their kids, who are 7 and 5 years old.

"When the book got here, my wife intercepted it right away and put it on the highest shelf possible, out of reach from our kids. They did get to see some of my early test sketches, though, and I got the same reaction every time. They were like, 'Why is this so scary? Why can't Pat be a ninja instead of a zombie?'" recalled Soofi with a laugh.

Ximm said he deliberately kept the book away from his toddler as well, although she did sneak at quick peek at it once when he accidentally left a copy on the coffee table for a few seconds.

Ximm said she simply asked him what was wrong with the fleshy zombies in the book and then forgot about it, as his wife looked on with a "steely gaze."

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"I didn't have the heart to do full-on beta testing on my daughter for the book. Although now we have another kid on the way, so I feel differently. If I had known we'd have a fallback kid, just in case I screw the first one up, maybe I would've shown it to her," Ximm deadpanned.

In all seriousness, the authors believe "Pat the Zombie" is a representation of today's times.

They said the daily grind, the "great recession" and consumerism have all taken a toll on society, leaving many of us feeling like walking zombies. At least in their book, they said, Judy and Paul get to take out their anxieties.

"I, for one, will never look at 'Pat the Bunny' the same way again," said Ximm. "Some things just can't be unseen."

"Pat the Zombie" hits shelves April 26.

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