Wed Rabbit is a surreal, funny and engaging read that has elements of Alice In Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Wizard of Oz, Animal Farm and the Teletubbies (thrown in for good measure). The premise is familiar enough; bad thing happens, character is transported to fantasy world, character must unravel the clues and riddles to complete a quest to return safely to the real world. For the most part the story is set in a fantasy world which is bookended by two parts that take place in the real world.
Ten year old Iphegenia (Fidge) is struggling to come to terms with the death of her father two years ago and the constant reminder of Wed Wabbit, younger sister Minnie’s favourite toy, is doing little to help ease the pain. Neither is having to read ‘The Land of Wimbley Woos’ to four year old Minnie (Minerva) for the eight millionth time. When something awful happens to Minnie whilst out on a shopping trip it is somewhat ironic that Wed Wabbit and The Land of the Wimbley Woos take on an increased significance for Fidge. With Minnie rushed to hospital and mum needing to be at her bedside, Fidge, along with Minnie’s precious Wed Rabbit and book, are bundled off to stay with her precocious and mollycoddled cousin Graham.
It isn’t long before Fidge finds herself falling down the ‘wabbit’ hole and into the land of her sister’s favourite story and her own worst nightmare, The Land of the Wimbley Woos. A bizarre land full of colourful dustbin shaped characters who have the unfortunate ability to only speak in rhyme.
“In Wimbley Land live Wimbley Woos
Who come in many different hues
In Yellow, Pink and Green and Blue
In Orange, Grey and Purple too.”
All is not well in Wimbley Land. The good King has been usurped and the kingdom is now ruled by an evil animal dictator who can not pronounce his r’s and who is hellbent on sucking all of the life out of the kingdom and its colourful occupants using his army of ‘Blues’. With her sister’s life hanging in the balance and the prospect of being stuck in Wimbley Land forever a distinct possibility, Fidge, accompanied by various cuddly toys that have sparked into life and cousin Graham who is terrified of everything, must solve the clues to defeat ‘the Blues’ and return Wed Wabbit back to Minnie.
Lissa Evans has created, quite literally, a colourful cast of characters. The coloured Wimbley Woos all have unique qualities that often play-out in hilarious interactions. My favourite character is Ella, the purple elephant, who acts as a life-coach and is all for promoting positivity through mindfulness and a growth mindset. For Fidge and Graham, their adventures in Wimbley Land are a voyage of discovery as they learn about themselves and grow as individuals and grow closer as cousins.
You can take what you want from this book. It can be a laugh-out-loud read set in a ridiculous land full of characters who look like dustbins. It is also a read that deals with the issues associated with grief, guilt and anxiety and therefore it serves partly as a self-help book for the reader. For me, it is a laugh-out-lead read with important messages about recognising the uniqueness of others and celebrating differences. And perhaps most important of all, that love and a hug are sometimes all that is needed.
I am conflicted as to what age I would recommend this for. The setting is somewhat childish and so wacky that it would appeal to younger readers but the deeper issues are much more suited to older readers (9+). Maybe best shared between parent and child.