The Blurb On The Back:
Follow the adventures of the extraordinary Ambrose in this newly discovered story from the renowned author of The Sheep-Pig, Dick King-Smith, completed by his great-granddaughter Josie Rogers.
I’ve NEVER seen anything like it … Fancy following a trail like THAT!
Ambrose may seem like an ordinary rabbit but he has the most extraordinary sense of smell! He can detect any aroma from sweets to kittens – and even niffy foxes!
He lives with his family in a hutch and is visited every day by Biddy, who is desperate to take him home to be her pet – if only her mum and dad would let her.
Biddy trains Ambrose to become a tracker rabbit – which comes in very handy when Ambrose’s little sister Roll goes missing. But when Biddy’s family find themselves in real danger, can Ambrose’s sensitive nose save the day?
AMBROSE FOLLOWS HIS NOSE was released in the United Kingdom on 3rd March 2022. Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.
The Review (Cut For Spoilers):
Ambrose is a rabbit who lives in a very nice hutch with his mum, Woodsmoke, and three siblings – Roly (the smallest rabbit in the litter but who has a big sense of adventure), Archibald (who loves food, especially carrots) and April (who is fairly sensible). His dad, Roland, is a pretty old rabbit whose hearing is going and who lives in a different hutch close by.
The rabbits all belong to young Biddy’s Uncle Jim, who she is staying with for part of the school holidays. Like Uncle Jim, Biddy is absolutely potty about animals – especially rabbits – and she would love one of her own, but her mum and dad say that she’s too young. Biddy takes a particular shine to Ambrose and soon discovers that he has a fabulously sensitive nose that’s able to distinguish and follow hundreds of different scents. Biddy is certain that Ambrose could be trained to be as good a tracker as a bloodhound and even though Uncle Jim is doubtful, he helps her to lay trails for Ambrose to follow.
Ambrose’s nose comes in very handy though when Roly manages to escape the hutch and goes exploring in the woods near Uncle Jim’s house. Roly’s delighted to see more of what the world has to offer, but that also means meeting other animals and she happens to come across a rather smelly fox called Nigel who just loves rabbits …
Josie Rogers has completed her great-grandfather Dick King-Smith’s unfinished manuscript for release on what would have been his centenary, creating an utterly delightful read for children aged 6+ that’s filled with King-Smith’s warmth and wit. The illustrations by Stephanie Laberis are charming and there’s a lovely end note by Rogers. Younger readers will enjoy the adventurous bunnies while older readers will enjoy the sly humour and nostalgia.
The narrative has a fairly loose format with Rogers/King-Smith POV swapping between Biddy, Uncle Jim, Ambrose, Roly, Woodsmoke and Roland in a way that gives the story added energy. The plot moves between Biddy’s love for Ambrose and desire to turn him into a Bloodrabbit, Roly’s desire to see the world and Biddy’s attempt to persuade her Uncle Jim and her parents to let her keep Ambrose.
I particularly liked Nigel the fox (better known as Niffy although he doesn’t understand why), who has a great voice and the friendship he strikes up with Roly and Ambrose is quite heart warming. Also fun is the relationship between the somewhat pompous Roland and Woodsmoke – adults who read along with young readers will enjoy some of the sly jokes about their relationship and Roland’s selective hearing difficulties plus the scenes where Ambrose meets the birds that Uncle Jim also keep. Young readers will empathise with Biddy’s desire for a pet of her own and although there’s something a little precocious about the way she answers back to her parents towards the end of the book, you do sympathise with where she comes from given that she’s demonstrated how responsible she can be.
Stephanie Laberis’s illustrations have a lot of charm to them and the slightly cartoony style to the humans is very endearing.
I’ll admit that the Bloodrabbit storyline did make me worry that this book was going to be a rabbit version of King-Smith’s classic THE SHEEP PIG (later filmed as BABE) but this is very much its own story and I very much enjoyed the themes of friendship that run through it. Rogers has done a really good job of finishing her great-grandfather’s manuscript – to the extent that there is no noticeable shift in writing tone or storyline. This is a fitting tribute to one of Britain’s much-loved children’s writers and a fitting tribute in what would have been his centenary year.