Wednesday 5 December 2012

340. Wings & Co Book 1: Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner illustrated by David Roberts

Wings & Co Book 1: Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner illustrated by David Roberts
Published December 2012 Orion

From the publisher:
Emily Vole makes headline news in the first weeks of her life, when she is found in an abandoned hatbox in Stansted Airport. Then, only a few years later, her neighbour Mrs String dies leaving Emily a mysterious inheritance: an old shop, a small bunch of golden keys and a cat called Fidget. It's the beginning of an adventure of a lifetime as the old Fairy Detective Agency comes back to life. It is up to Emily to reopen the shop, and recall the fairies to duty. Together they must embark on their first mystery and do battle with their great fairy-snatching enemy, Harpella.

This book is a little bit Harry Potter and a little bit Dahl.  The Harry Potter similarities start with the orphaned Emily, being adopted by Mr and Mrs Dashwood, they want a child, and reading in the paper about a baby abandoned at the airport sounds like just what they were after.  It’s fine at first, but Mrs Dashwood is not happy that Emily’s colouring doesn’t fit in with her and her husband.  Emily has dark hair and brown eyes, while the Dashwood's are blonde and blue eyed.  When Mr and Mrs….have triplets, three blonde blue eyed girls, they really have no need for Emily, and are not sure what to do with her, as they can’t send her back to the orphanage.  Their solution is to make her live in the laundry and work for them doing all of the housework and looking after the triplets. 

Emily’s fortune changes when she meets her neighbour Mrs String, who teaches Emily to not only read and write, but teaches her French, German and Old English.  Mrs String and her (human sized, talking) cat Fidget help her with her chores, so that she has the afternoons free to study.  Things are going swimmingly until Harpella arrives in town.  Harpella's sudden appearance on a broomstick (she is a witch) causes Mr Charlie Cuddle to take his foot off the brakes in his car and accidentally run over Mrs String.  She also pays a visit to the Dashwood house, and while she didn;t find Emily, she did manage to turn the triplets into zombies!

Mrs Strings death leaves Emily with a monetary inheritance and also makes her the proud owner of a little shop called Wings & Co.  With this news, and the threat of Harpella on her tail, Emily leaves town with Fidget in an attempt to out run Harpella and find the mysterious Wings & Co, which has legs, and has a habit of changing location with no notice as to where it’s moved to!

As I said there are elements of Harry Potter, with the orphaned child, badly treated by the parental figures in her life and magic, and a dose of Dahl, with the frightfully horrible adaptive parents.  There are pictures throughout the book, so it will appeal to readers from 8+, as well as readers who are a bit older and don’t mind a few pictures thrown in to break up the text.

It’s the first of new series and while this story is complete in its own right, it most definitely serves as an introduction to the characters we will see more of in the books to come.

Who will like this book: Girls and Boys age 8+
Read it if you like: Ratburger by David Walliams

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