Operation Bunny, book one in the Wings & Co. series written by Sally Gardner and illustrated by David Roberts is an amusing English take on a kid escaping a mean adoptive mother with the help of magical friends. (The opening description of a suburban couple with a villa in Spain and garden topiary is a tip-off; later descriptions of tea, trollies, and trains offer further clues as to the story’s setting. Oh, and there’s cricket (the sport) on the radio.) A good character gets killed off early in the story but we’re not given time to dwell on her death; it’s merely a plot device to get the culpable adults out of the way. The kid, Emily Vole, is engaging, industrious, curious, and a self-starter; her sidekick Fidget, apparently a man presenting as a cat – albeit a human-sized feline with a human voice box and mental capacity, is handy to have around but lacks in catitude, an issue with both his dialog and his depiction. The sidekicks that she acquires later in the story don’t get much screen time; I expect that they are included mostly to set up later books in the series. In the case of the fairy presenting as a bratty 11-year old boy, less presence is a good thing; I’d rather have more of the zombie triplets, Emily’s younger sisters. The hardcover version runs to 176 pages (25 chapters) with some full page illustrations and in a reasonably large serif font with good leading.
Notable quotes and words:
“Buddleia and bindweed.” Used in place of cuss words, these two words are actually the botanical name for butterfly bush (which has brackets of sweet smelling flowers much loved by butterflies and hummingbirds) and a common name for a family of pretty flowering vines (which includes various species of morning glory).
Fidget says: “…a good kipper and a good kip. One being a fish and the other a sleep.” “We were nearly skinned cod” and “Swipe me with a kipper”.
“moggy” – a mixed-breed housecat
Faerie Queene – often a reference to Queen Elizabeth I of England, 1558 – 1603.
haddock – another kind of fish; often used in fish and chips
“The triplets, who hardly ever slept these days, had been up since crow’s fart, playing Scrabble.”
“bright orange boiler suit” – coveralls; one-piece garment worn over street clothes while working in dirty and/or low visibility situations.
‘spirit lamp’ – In its modern incarnation a spirit lamp is a camp stove or oil lamp rather than a magic lamp with a spout and a handle as imagined in any number of genie-in-a-bottle stories.
“It’s been causing me gyp, I can tell you.” – ‘gyp’ can mean ‘severe pain’ in British English; in US English it just means ‘a fraud or a swindle’.
“…can a lamp change its puff?”