Ribbit Rabbit Robot, Victoria Mackinlay (author), Sofya Karmazina (illus.), Scholastic, April 2020.
This lamp is enchanted
and I am the genie,
I’ll grant all your wishes
but don’t be a meanie…
When a friendly frog, a greedy rabbit and a robot with a short fuse discover a magic lamp, chaos follows… and friendship is found.
This is one of the most engaging literary experiences we’ve discovered lately, and with so few words, it’s like magic that author Victoria Mackinlay and illustrator Sofya Karmazina have pulled off such a fun, minimalistic story with so many layers! This book is like every kid’s wish come true!
Together, with Mackinlay’s clever singular-word dialogue, alliteration and snippets of rhyme, and Karmazina’s bouncy and comical painted illustrations, Ribbit Rabbit Robot is filled to the brink with energy, sparkle, and wondrous-delights-to-pore-over galore. The visual literacy supporting the action and emotion expressed through simple language combine perfectly to create not only an interactive, exciting read-aloud experience, but also the ability to predict, to analyse, to reflect and question all the elements encased within.
The characters also challenge the stereotype, usually associating frogs as cheeky types. Here, Frog is complex with a mix of wants versus needs, greedy versus generous, with a good heart that prevails in the end. Could this scenario be most people’s predicament – wouldn’t you want just one selfish wish for yourself, if you found a magic lamp? Rowing, riding, revving and hot-air-balloon-racing around the countryside to snatch the lamp for their own possession sure is exhausting, but Rabbit and Robot have been ignorant, for there’s more to the enchanted lamp than meets the eye. A late discovery by Frog means there’s an important choice to be made, and the right one will pay off in spades (or friends, rather!).
With a tonne of pictorial vigour, revealing clues (even in the endpapers) and playful language, Ribbit Rabbit Robot is a clever, hilarious and magically layered tale that just bursts with shine to fulfill every heart’s desire. A ‘rambunctious’, ‘riveting’ read for early years and beyond.
Review by Romi Sharp
*Special thanks to the wonderful Victoria Mackinlay for the super special book plate and card sent for my Ribbit Rabbit Robot-lover seven-year-old. Also thank you to the Australian Writers’ Centre for choosing us as a winner to receive this amazing book as a prize!