Barely pausing from their labors, recounted in The Great Hamster Massacre (2011), Anna and Suzanne return to sow more mayhem.
Again, their focus is pets; this time, it’s Joe-down-the-street’s New Rabbit. Joe’s obsessed with protecting it from harm, but now that he’s moving in with his dad, whose landlord prohibits pets, Joe must leave New Rabbit behind. Because her family’s New Cat was the indirect cause of Old Rabbit’s demise, Anna is determined to protect its successor. Joe’s strategy of standing guard with a Super Soaker to repel predators is not an option, but the girls are up to the challenge. Aided by Anna’s little brother, Tom, they concoct a splendid, if very complicated, plan to keep New Rabbit safe. (Clandestine visits to mean Miss Matheson’s compost heap, technical assistance from retired police officer Mrs. Rotherham and a working knowledge of Beatrix Potter are involved.) The plan appears to work until New Rabbit gets sick. Joe isn’t doing well, either. Could they be pining for each other? While reintroducing characters slows the pace at first, once underway, this gentler sequel again showcases Davies’ laconic style and deadpan humor, so well-matched to the chapter-book format. Neatly complementing the text, Shaw’s sly, witty illustrations, pie charts and graphics are a treat.
A welcome return for the indomitable Anna. (Fiction. 8-12)