I have just spent the last week listening to the audio book of Wisher and the Runaway piglet the first book in the series Railway Rabbits. It was such a delight to listen to this story briefly each day. Kate O'Sullivan does an excellent narration and seems to easily change so many character voices. Listen to an audio sample here.
Last year one of our students read Wisher and the Runaway piglet and she recommended it to me. I love it when this happens. The young reader wondered if there were more books in the series. Together we looked inside the back cover and discovered there are eight more books so we have now added them to our library.
As this first story opens Barley is anxiously waiting for the arrival of his new babies. Mellow has sent him off and while he waits looking at the river various animals from the woodland community pass by and offer their advice and good wishes. Barley returns home to the news five babies (3 boys and 2 girls) have arrived. They name them Bramble, Bracken, Berry, Fern and Wisher.
Close to their burrow there is a terrifying beast - the Red Dragon. It "roared along the valley every day - up and down, up and down - whistling loudly and belching clouds of smoke. Although it looked a terrifying beast Barley had never once seen it stray from its tracks." Have you guessed what this really is?
After several weeks spent in the safety of their burrow the five little rabbits are allowed to explore the world outside - but not stray to far. Wisher keeps hearing a little song in her head :
I whisper a song like the wind in your ear
Wisher, beware. Wisher take care.
While she does take care, Wisher somehow manages to become caught up in a race to find a tiny runaway piglet. Luckily she has made a good friend Parsley the mole. Together they find Foster the piglet and restore him to his family. One fun aspect of this is watching the spread of rumours about the fate of Foster. First it is one dog, then two or three, then a pack of wild dogs - five or six. This aspect of the story would make for an interesting class discussion.
I have included the new and old covers. Read an interview with the author here. I am sure younger readers will eagerly seek out this whole series which would also make a good family read-aloud.