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Rita’s Revenge by Lian Tanner

Title: Rita’s Revenge

A duck in front of red and white splotches. She is surrounded by feathers and colourful letters. She is holding a book. Rita's Revenge by Lian Tanner,

Author: Lian Tanner

Genre: Fiction, Mystery

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: 5th July 2022

Format: Paperback

Pages: 352

Price: $16.99

Synopsis: The town of Little Dismal has more than its fair share of clever animals, which is why they are now in danger. Can Rita – poet, outcast and duck – solve the case of the chook-napped Clara? A quacking mystery story from the award-winning author of A Clue for Clara.

‘Chasing cows and pigs. Mockery. Rude songs. Piracy, bullying, revenge, warfare and general thuggery.’
This is the list of approved duck activities and it does NOT include poetry.

The ducks of Little Dismal are angry. A scruffy chicken called Clara has been telling lies about them. They need revenge.

Enter Rita – a duck with the soul of a poet. After an embarrassing talent night, Rita sees revenge on Clara as a chance to restore her reputation.

But Rita finds more than revenge on her mission. She uncovers a dastardly plan to chook-nap the clever chicken that will take them both a long way from home.

Luckily, it’s Rita’s unlikely friendship with a small human and the help of some street-smart birds that just might save the day and inspire an epic poem!

~*~

The ducks of Little Dismal, a small, fictional country town in Victoria, are mad at Clara, detective chook. They seem to think she has been telling lies about them, so of course they want revenge (I’ll bet you didn’t know ducks were amongst some of the most revenge-filled animals ever – they want revenge on all sorts of farm animals). They’ve just got revenge on the cows – because the cows were mocking them. And now Clara is in their sights, but all of them think poetry-writing Rita is the wrong fit – she is not reliable and dabbles in activities that are not on the approved duck activity list! But Rita sees this revenge as a chance to restore her reputation, and recruits Olive’s – Clara’s human – former friend, Tracy – as her army. Yet as the story unfolds, Rita finds out there is much more going on in Little Dismal than a few duck feathers being ruffled. So it is up to Rita, Clara, Olive, and Tracy to come together and save the day from Delphine, whose nefarious plans see characters from A Clue for Clara return, and enemies become friends.

What fun it was to return to Clara’s world and get to meet other characters like Tracy and Rita. Rita is determined to follow the duck rules – I didn’t know that ducks had rules or approved activities, but her heart keeps leading her back to poetry, and her dreams. Rita, follow your dreams, girl! Much like a Clue for Clara, the story is told in alternating diary entries and letters from Rita and Tracy, so we get an understanding of everything, and it is consistent, funny, and an utter delight. A book told from an animal and a kid’s perspective – which makes the whole novel highly entertaining, and I found that I read it in one sitting, because the story and the voices of Tracy and Rita were so engaging.

Like Clara, Rita had to find a way to communicate with Olive and the other humans she interacted with, and using fridge letters, and Rita learning to write with a pen was a wonderful and amusing way to execute this, so each bird – Clara and Rita – had their own methods of communication that worked for them. I also loved that in some ways, this connected back to a Clue for Clara, with the mystery implicating characters from the first book. It was done very well because it all made sense and had me laughing from the first page. Rita was a fantastic character, and I love that Rita and Clara are their own birds – their own duck and chook because being just like the other ducks and chooks in Little Dismal would be boring.

Duck and chook detectives are loads of fun, and give younger readers a first or early taste of crime, and a delightfully funny book in times that are not easy all the time. Rita’s Revenge might seem like a simple story, but it has layers of complexity that show we shouldn’t judge people, or chooks, or ducks – and that our first impression and assumptions are not always right. It is a testimony to finding your people – the ones who truly get you, and proves that it doesn’t matter who they are – human, duck, or chook. It matters that they will always be there for you and you will be there for them, and you will fight for justice for them.

What a grand book! I loved this one just as much as I loved a Clue for Clara, and hope that there will be many readers who love it as much as I did.

1 thought on “Rita’s Revenge by Lian Tanner”

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