Review Blog

Dec 13 2011

The rabbit girl by Mary Arrigan

cover image

Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2011. ISBN 978 1 64780 156 2.
(Ages: 10+) Warmly recommended. A charming tale of two different families coming together over a sketch of a girl with a rabbit, this will appeal to a wide audience, as two stories, one set now and the other set during World War 2, coincide.
Mallie and her mother, Sarah are at odds. Sarah just cannot keep a job and so the pair finds it hard to make ends meet. Mallie pushes her mother to start drawing again like she used to but to no avail. Unbeknownst to Sarah, Mallie takes a part time job in a pet shop after school, where she befriends the older man who owns the place.
For Sarah's birthday, Mallie buys her an attractive drawing of a girl with a rabbit from the local secondhand shop and they display it proudly in their tiny flat. When the pet shop owner and his son come to tea, the man is distraught, telling the two women that the picture is his, accusing Mallie of stealing it from him.
In alternate chapters we learn of the old man's background, that during the war he was evacuated to Lake Windemere and there met a young girl and a painter. This story of his war time life comes together with the two women in today's London. This is an involving story with an easy introduction to children at war and what happened to the more than one million children evacuated from London, as well as giving a background to a well known children's illustrator who lived in Lake Windemere.
Fran Knight

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