Harper Collins Australia
- ISBN: 9781460761670
- ISBN 10: 1460761677
- Imprint: HarperCollins AU
- RRP: $19.99
If I could only use one word for this book, it would be delightful! From start to finish (and I binge read it one sitting) it is charming, sweet and fun. Amanda Graham’s knack for creating endearing characters and plots remains true (who can ever forget Arthur?).
In dusty, ravaged Mt Dry, South Australia, Olive lives with her parents and grandpa on a wheat farm that has not been faring well. The poor returns mean that Olive’s dad is now a FIFO to the mines and she misses him, but there is always plenty to do for her to be occupied. Just now that would be her thriving veggie garden and the upcoming class play.
Olive’s class has been learning about biodiversity and the effects introduced species have had on Australia’s native flora and fauna. On her own farm, rabbits have become a real problem, though Olive would love to have a pet one of her own – and is horrified when her grandfather makes plans to destroy the warrens and poison the animals. As Olive rightly points out, the rabbits didn’t ask to be brought to Australia, it is hardly their fault, so I’m with her – no animal deserves the kind of suffering that has been inflicted on this introduced species.
On the other side of the world Wilby is practising his magic with an amazing Marvello top hat, one hundred white rabbits and one very unusual black rabbit named Robbit – who happens to be able to talk. When his ex-partner in their stage act turns up, steals the magic hat, locks Wilby in a cellar and plans to wow the world with the same act, a chain of events is set in motion that will not only cause ructions from one side of the world to another, but ultimately solve a mystery about the disappearance of the original Marvello.
Olive’s kindness and clear thinking, along with her friends, Stevie and Del – not to mention, the remarkable Robbit – not only thwart the villain, Reynard, and save Wilby, but also a hundred white rabbits, and hundreds more wild rabbits who were about to be exterminated in the dry fields of South Australia.
With themes of compassion, friendship, family, good and evil, generosity and greed and collaboration, this would make for a fantastic read-aloud for a class, as well as a thoroughly engaging read for individuals. Amanda’s writing is beautifully enhanced by the illustrations. I am not familiar with Lavanya’s work but anyone who can create such adorable pictures -especially those rabbits! – is already on my list of watchables. I can easily see this being a much-loved book for kiddos around Year 3 to Year 6. It would also easily segue into robust discussions on the rights and wrongs of eradication of feral animals and more humane ways of dealing with these.
Highly recommended for middle school readers – after all, what’s not to love when it comes to rabbits? *wink*