Written and Illustrated by Mini Grey
Published by Simon & Schuster
Reviewed by Karl Andy Foster
Welcome to a Magic Show! The prominent red curtain and display font title in red and gold introduces us to the world of performance. Two wide-eyed Bunnies, Abra and Cadabra bookend an upturned top hat, they appear harmless enough (however one of them does seem a bit inept with a saw). The Octopus tentacle entering in the top left corner is a bit of a worry though. Could it mean trouble for our protagonists?
Drawing upon her work in the theatre, building scenery, props, puppets and painting backdrops Mini Grey has produced a visually rich and exciting story.
It works on two levels, the first showing how our naughty (or should that be delinquent) Bunnies take over the theatre to cause mayhem while in the second we see how The Great Hypno restores the status quo. The language used to rhyme with ‘Hey Presto!’ is humourous and plays with our expectations. Text is large, bold and spare. It works well with the visual structure of the narrative. I’m sure that children will love reading this picture book aloud with an adult and exclaim every time the die-cut or fold out pages reveal surprises. Simon and Schuster have invested wisely in the quality of this publication.
The illustrations have a spikey energy. Grey draws animals beautifully. Her Octopus and Tiger are full of personality and wit. Subtle shading helps with the simplicity and directness of the drawing. The environment is shallow and this adds to the tension in the scenes. Grey cleverly arranges for the wings and backstage to be in view so that the secondary story can play out. This is show business and the Bunnies want to be stars of the show.
The characters are well defined but at the same time understated. Stand out images are the first spread where The Great Hypno encounters the determined Bunnies, the knife throwing scene that made me laugh out loud, when they literally saw in half the lovely Brenda and the final cannon blast fold out!
Kate Greenaway Medal nominee Grey has created a riotous and raucous adventure that leaves me asking a few questions. Are the duo truly thieves or merely pranksters? Is their anarchy natural exuberance or something more sinister? I suspect they are simply good friends who can’t help but lead each other on. The inclusion of the misquote from ‘The Italian Job’ is a wonderful way to complete the story. We can be certain of one thing, the Bunnies will be back.
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