Paul Cosentino (text), Jack Heath (text), James Hart (illus.), Rabbit Rescue (The Mysterious World of Cosentino #2), Scholastic Australia, 1 Feb 2018, 192pp., $12.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781742765433
When I got Rabbit Rescue to review, my eight year old son snatched it out of my hands almost before I’d unpacked it, and it was a week before I could retrieve it from him. By then, he’d read the story twice, studied the instructions, and was busy working on his sleight of hand with the foam balls included with the book. His judgment is that this series is the Best. Ever.
In this next exciting instalment, illusionist extraordinaire and magician, Cos, gets a message from Princess Priscilla warning him that all the rabbits are prisoners of the evil card King, and that if Cos doesn’t rescue them before the King’s birthday all the rabbits are going to be Rolled Roast Rabbit on the party menu. Cos and his friends are going to have to pull some pretty spectacular tricks out of the hat to save the bunnies and foil the King’s dastardly scheme in time.
This series is enormous fun, and a well-paced adventure that keeps readers hooked until the last page. As with the first book in the series, Cosentino includes revelations about Cos’ tricks and illusions that, rather than spoiling the mystery, feel like a VIP backstage pass that invites the reader into the act. The book comes with a bonus set of foam magician’s balls, and instructions on how to perform sleight of hand tricks with them. My son and his friends love practising these tricks together.
I love the sense of humour in these books. Nothing is taken too seriously, and there is a delightful sense of the bizarre. Favourite characters like Snuggles and Locki are back to help Cos, and Nonna, Cos’ grandmother and props master, joins the cast in this book. The jokes and word-play come thick and fast. This is a fun story to read out loud together, too. Adult readers who remember their Billy Joel will also find a sneaky reference that should get a giggle.
The illustrations add a charm and verve, and the style of illustration used links the images to the story in a way that will help younger readers. Throughout the text some words are highlighted in colour, both for emphasis and to make them easier to identify and read. The font size and layout is all designed to be visually appealing and easy to connect with for younger readers.
You don’t need to have read the first book, The Missing Ace, in order to understand Rabbit Rescue, but it does help. And seriously, if your young reader hasn’t read this series yet, they’re missing out. Readers aged 7 to 11 are going to have a lot of fun with Rabbit Rescue.
Reviewed by Emily Clarke