Source: PublisherHardcover, 192 pages
Published February 11th 2014 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
When Emily Vole inherits an abandoned shop, she discovers a magical world she never knew existed. And a fairy-hating witch, a mischievous set of golden keys, and a train full of brightly colored bunnies are just a few of the surprises that come with it.
With the help of a talking cat called Fidget and a grumpy fairy detective called Buster, it is up to Emily to save the fairies and get to the bottom of Operation Bunny.
Operation Bunny is a sweet little novel for younger readers that is sure to enchant and thrill. I wouldn’t call the novel middle grade literature as the tone and content are far younger than anything on the market for middle graders right now but it would be a perfect fit for kids from grades five to ten. The novel is about Emily Vole, a little girl with mysterious origins, who is adopted by a horrible yuppie family who value plastic far more than nature. The novel tells her adventures as she escapes the horrid family she has been enslaved by, becomes the keeper of the keys and has many adventures.
The art in the novel is quite exquisite and I am looking forward to seeing what the finished copy looks like. The novel sets itself up immediately as something younger readers would be comfortable reading by invoking the storytelling voice. The voice of the nameless narrator is kindly and reassuring and so even when there are scarier elements present, the younger reader will always know that what they are reading is a story and is removed from reality. Another thing I appreciated about the novel is its attention to and usage of more sophisticated vocabulary than is usually present in a book aimed to younger readers. Gardner uses the words and then explains what they means and how they are pronounced but rather than feeling sonorous, the explanations are interwoven into the story.
Emily Vole is a great character and though as an adult reader, I felt the novel to be a bit too simple for my taste, for that younger reader in your life, the novel will be fun and uplifting, a triumph of the underdog. I recommend it.