I recently read Wed Wabbit with my book club, and I have to say that it made me question why I don’t pick up children’s literature to read more often. The book follows Fidge, a young girl who is fairly emotionally closed off after the death of her father. She carries a lot of resentment, and when her behaviour leads to the accidental hospitalisation of her four year old sister, Minnie, she is distraught. Trying to deal with these emotions through anger leads to Fidge, her stuck-up germophobe cousin, Graham, and a collection of plushies, being sucked into the Land of the Wimbley Woos, the setting of Minnie’s favourite bedtime story. But the story isn’t how Fidge remembers – the storybook lands are not happy and peaceful, but full of fear, and controlled by an evil dictator who sounds suspiciously like Minnie’s favourite stuffed animal…
This book is as insane as it sounds, but Lissa Evans writes it with such flair and wit that I found myself utterly engaged by the bizarreness, and invested in the future of Wimbley Land. Wimbley Land is populated by Wimbley Woos, all of which are different colours that represent their main characteristic.
Yellow are timid, Blue are strong
Grey are wise and rarely wrong
Green are daring, Pink give cuddles
Orange are silly and get in muddles.
It was clever how the author wrote every single encounter with these details in mind, even down to the way the characters spoke. Wimbley Woos always speak in rhyme, but the greens were LOUD characters, and the text was printed to match. Wed Wabbit, the evil dictator, was even louder, and sometimes half a page was taken up by his booming voice! There were honestly some moments where I was laughing out loud in cafes because I found the comedy in this book to be so right for me.
The book also tackled some very serious issues. It looks at a society divided, at people oppressed by the labels they have been given. It looks at the process of bereavement of a child having lost a parent. All of these things I noticed and I appreciated that someone wanted children to experience these themes and form options on them.
On the other hand, this is maybe where this book is flawed. As a 26 year old, Fidge’s grief really touched me, and her attempts to work through the barriers she had created for herself were very real. My younger readers in my book club didn’t really get it though, and I think it is because things like a bratty cousins transitional object being a talking carrot on wheels is something that only an adult can really understand – the kids just thought it was a bit weird.
Though I’m not convinced that this book hit the mark as a children’s book, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and want absolutely everyone I know to read it.