Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Review - "Operation Bunny"

Emily Vole was not the adopted daughter the Dashwood’s hoped for.  With her dark eyes and dark hair, she looks nothing like them!  When triplets unexpectedly enter the Dashwoods' life when Emily is five, Emily is shifted from adopted daughter, to unpaid servant.  Never taught to read or write, Emily is nonetheless clever and curious, and this leads her to a friendship with the “old bat” next door, Miss String.  Along with her overlarge, bipedal cat named Fidget, Miss String teaches Emily to read and write, do math, and to speak French, German and Old English.  With education comes a little more backbone, and when tragic circumstances suddenly leave Emily with a fortune and some freedom, she leaves her ex-adoptive parents’ house for good.  Unfortunately for Emily, a bad witch, Harpella, is on her trail, blasting innocent bystanders into rainbow colored bunnies in her wake.  Emily must dodge the malevolent Harpella, free fairies and find the hidden shop where the fairies’ wings are being kept, all the while chasing the mystery of who she really is and where she came from.

The story presented here, in Operation Bunny, is nothing new.  Abandoned orphan; horrible “parents”; unknown, magical origin and future magical responsibilities, etc.  Easy comparisons can be made to Cinderella, Matilda, and any fantasy story involving a “chosen one”.  However, the way Sally Gardner puts all the familiar pieces together is sly and very entertaining, which is its own kind of magic.  David Roberts’ illustrations go a long way towards creating this enjoyable atmosphere (Harpella, in particular, is delightfully frightening).  As a series opener, Operation Bunny is long on exposition and short on action, but is never boring.  I’m sure future installments will feature more fleshed out mysteries for our newly formed fairy detective agency.

Wings & Co.: Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner
2014, Henry Holt and Co.
Personal copy

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