Authors: Tamsyn Murray
First published in Great Britain in 2011 by Simon and Schuster UK Ltd, a CBS company.
Text copyright © 2011 Tamsyn Murray
Cover and interior illustrations copyright © 2011 Lee Wildish
This book is copyright under the Berne Convention.
No reproduction without permission.
All rights reserved.
The right of Tamsyn Murray and Lee Wildish to be identified as the author and illustrator of this work respectively has been asserted by them in accordance with sections 77
and 78 of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act, 1988.
Simon & Schuster UK Ltd
1st Floor, 222 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8HB
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to
actual people living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
eBook ISBN: 978-1-84738-830-8
Printed and bound in Great Britain.
For Taz, my oldest four-legged friend.
Purr on, baby!
Let me introduce myself. I’m Harriet Houdini – Stunt Bunny extraordinaire and all-round superstar. Once upon a time, I was an ordinary little rabbit in an ordinary
little pet shop, but then eight-year-old Susie Wilson took me home and my life changed for ever. Before I knew it, I’d scooped first prize in the
Superpets Search for a Superstar
TV talent show and triple backflipped my way into the nation’s hearts. Suddenly, I was a VIP
– Very Important Pet – and everyone knew my name.
Of course, you might think that being the star of Saturday night television means I’m one of those snobby celebs who owns a big mansion with twenty-four-hour security guards, but
you’d be wrong. I live with the Wilson family, in a normal-sized house on a perfectly everyday street. OK, so maybe my hutch is a teensy bit posh, but I am Britain’s Best Loved Bunny,
But when our new next-door neighbour moved in, our street became a little bit less ordinary. From the moment the mysterious Madame Belladonna arrived and fired a toothy smile my way, I had a
peculiar, can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-it suspicion that there was something fishy about her. You might think I’m being twitchy, but after two bunny-napping attempts by a mad magician
called the Great Maldini, a girl can’t be too careful. He’d been after me ever since I won the village pet show and started on my rollercoaster ride to fame, but I wasn’t about to
spend the rest of my days popping in and out of an old top hat in his rubbishy magic show. Luckily my Stunt Bunny skills had helped me escape his clutches both times.
But, even though I know I can be a bit suspicious, I still had a very funny feeling when our new neighbour arrived. I was sipping on a carrot smoothie while Susie read me some fan mail when I
noticed a battered blue-and-green van pull up at the empty house next door. Susie had heard the noise too, so she lifted me up and carried me to the window so we could take a closer look.
‘It looks like someone is moving in next door, Harriet,’ she said, peering through the net curtains. ‘I wonder if they’ve got any pets?’
‘Huh,’ said Susie’s dad as he came into the room. ‘I hope not. One rabbit on the rampage is enough.’
Susie’s dad is the grumpiest person I’ve ever met. I call him Evil Edward, or EE for short. He doesn’t like me much and acts as though I’m always up to no good –
even when I’m mostly behaving myself. He’s especially suspicious where his precious garden is concerned, but it’s his own fault really; if he didn’t grow the most delicious
roses, I wouldn’t need to nibble them.
Susie’s mum and little sister, Lily, crowded around the window too, while the family cat, Smudge, jumped on to the window sill to see what all the fuss was about. We all watched as the new
neighbour got out of the van.
‘Oh, it’s an old lady,’ Susie said, sounding a little bit disappointed.
‘What an odd-looking person,’ Mrs Wilson said, peering at the new neighbour uncertainly. ‘Is that a beekeeper’s hat she’s wearing?’
Sure enough, the old lady was wearing a big, broad-brimmed hat with a thick veil all the way around it. The rest of her appearance was just as strange: her dress was purple and flowery and
didn’t quite fit her thin body, and sticking out of her pointy, high-heeled shoes was a pair of skinny, hairy legs. She was carrying a gigantic, empty birdcage. Smudge licked his lips and his
tail began to swish from side to side.
‘Gosh,’ EE said as the lady tottered past our window towards the path to her front door. ‘I hope she doesn’t have a parrot to live in that cage. I don’t want to
hear it screeching “Pretty Polly” at all hours of the day and night.’
Lily took her dolly out of her mouth. ‘Pretty Polly, Pretty Polly,’ she squawked.
‘Me and my big mouth,’ EE sighed, folding his arms. ‘I suppose we’d better go and say hello.’ Then he looked down at me, a stern look on his face. ‘Leave that
rabbit in here, Susie, we don’t want to scare the poor woman away.’
Huh, what on earth was he going on about? If anyone was going to put our new neighbour off, it was him!
Susie frowned. ‘Harriet wants to say hello too.’
EE made a tutting sound. ‘Oh, all right, but make sure she can’t escape.’
‘I’m sure she’ll be on her best behaviour,’ Susie said, clipping me into my sparkly silver harness and lead. Then we opened the front door to greet the new arrival.
“‘Hello,’ EE called out. ‘Welcome to the neighbourhood. We’re the Wilsons.’ The old lady didn’t stop, but waved a woolly-gloved hand and carried on
wobbling her way along the path.
‘Do let us know if you need anything,’ Mrs Wilson added, her big, friendly smile fading a little.
The woman reached her front door. ‘’Ow lovely to meet you, my dears,’ she said in a squeaky, accented voice. ‘My name ees Madame Belladonna. I am sure we will be –
’ow you say – ze best bunnies.’