The boys had book vouchers to spend over half term, which prompted a whole set of agonising – first Son2 wanted to buy Lego models instead, and then to spend his share on Star Wars encyclopedias, and then Son1 wanted to buy Wimpy Kid and Tom Gates books… This leaves me very conflicted, because in theory I agree that everyone has the right to read and re-read what they like, but in practice we have borrowed almost every Star Wars-related book in existence from the library lately, and Son1 has loads of Tom Gates books already, and his teachers want him to read more challenging books, and it would be good for him to stretch himself, and and and…
So anyway, after much agonising, we ended up with a suitably mixed bag of books to please everyone.
Son1 ripped through Toto the Ninja Cat and the Great Snake Escape by Demot O’Leary and enjoyed it hugely, but it’s the kind of celebrity author, funny fluff with
random big words for no reason
that makes my heart sink.
Wed Wabbit, by Lissa Evans (David Fickling Books), on the other hand is the proper good stuff. Fortunately, Son1 agreed, and devoured it within a day. So then I had to read it for myself!
Fidge is having a bad week.
She’s been flung into a bizarre world alongside three companions: two are deeply weird and the third is her awful cousin Graham.
She has to solve a series of nearly impossible clues, defeat a dictator who can’t pronounce the letter ‘r’ and deal with three thousand Wimbley Woos (yes, you read that sentence correctly).
And the whole situation – the whole, entire thing – is her fault.
Wed Wabbit is in a fine tradition of children’s books that tackle big emotions like fear, grief and guilt through humour and fantasy. It’s set largely in the world of the Wimbley Woos, who come in a range of colours, each of which has one apparently defining characteristic, and who always speak in rhyme. There are familiar elements from other stories – toys that come to life, a world being drained of colour and emotion, and the Pythonesque difficulty of being taken seriously with a speech impediment.
Fidge (short for Iphigenia) is 10 and the sensible one compared to her zany mother, impossibly cute 4-year-old Minnie, and cossetted cousin Graham. After her father’s death, she is trying to hold everything together for her family when her little sister is hit by a car and taken to hospital. Fidge blames herself, and when she gets to her aunt and uncle’s house, she is so angry that she kicks the bag of Minnie’s toys down the cellar steps in the storm, a course of events that catapults her into her sister’s favourite book, along with Graham, Dr Carrot (Graham’s transitional object) and Eleanor Elephant. Together, they will have to solve riddles, rescue the Wimbley Woos and get home so that Minnie can be reunited with Wed Wabbit. Both Fidge and Graham learn a lot about themselves, and have to face up to fears and dangers, both real and imagined.
There is plenty of humour for grown-ups to enjoy, such as the take on the brightly-coloured, soppy Teletubbies/Fimbles, the strain of always having to speak in rhyme and the send-ups of a certain type of over-anxious parenting. There are also lots of laugh-out-loud moments for kids – at least judging by Son1’s reaction and joyful repetition of certain lines. It would be a lot of fun to read aloud and will make you think as well as laugh.