The Missing Trick by Robin Jacobs and illustrated by Aimee Wright

It was a delight to find a surprise copy of children’s book The Missing Trick written by Robin Jacobs and illustrated by Aimee Wright in my book post a few weeks ago. My grateful thanks to Lefki at Cicada for sending it to me in return for an honest review.

Published by Cicada on 2nd September 2021, The Missing Trick is available for purchase here.

The Missing Trick

Louis is a young street magician. He is setting up for his show but he can’t find his rabbit anywhere. He looks inside his hat but finds only a bouquet of flowers, which is caught by a a passing woman as he throws it away in disgust. He looks under his cups, spilling out dozens of balls, which are pounced upon by a group of kids. An endless string of scarves comes out of his sleeve and is wrapped around the neck of a posh lady…. With each trick, his audience grows, and unbeknownst to Louis, his show is unfolding brilliantly… But WHERE could that pesky rabbit be hiding???

Finally, Louis looks in his bag…. climbs in it…. and disappears. Now the rabbit AND Louis are missing! The audience hold their breaths until, POOF! Louis appears on the table in a puff of smoke. They erupt in a roar of applause. Louis, bemused, notices them for the first time. He takes off his cap to take a bow. The rabbit is sitting on his head. This is funny but also empowering story about a child, unaware of his own talents, who creates a diverse community around him, delighting in his show.

My Review of The Missing Trick

Louis has lost his rabbit for his magic tricks.

As with all other books from Cicada that I’ve read, The Missing Trick is another top quality children’s picture book. It’s beautifully produced with a solid, robust cover and illustrated end papers that fit the story brilliantly so that there’s a feeling of luxury attached to it. The durability of the cover means this book would be perfect for both home and pre-school settings.

The story is charming as Louis pulls all kinds of items out of his pockets, sleeves and cloak as he searches for the missing rabbit. I can imagine children having great fun predicting what might emerge and The Missing Trick is great for developing vocabulary as all kinds of items appear that children can name. There’s also a lovely joke as Louis also disappears as well as the rabbit.

Other jokes are visual as the fantastic illustrations underpin the story superbly, such as the bunch of flowers ending up with the couple obviously in love. The illustrations as just wonderful – vibrant, colourful, engaging and so well balanced against white space. Louis’s expressions would be perfect for exploring feelings and emotional literacy with young children. However, what I loved most about The Missing Trick was the diversity included in the illustrations. When Louis finally reappears out of his bag of tricks, the audience is filled with people of colour so that all children will find someone to relate to in the story. It really is wonderful, and sadly infrequent, to find such diverse ethnicity in children’s books.

I loved too, the underpinning message that we may have talents that we’re unaware we have. Louis is surprised by the crowd’s reaction to his antics in searching for the rabbit as he entertains them unwittingly. It’s a super idea to show children that how we see ourselves may not be how others see us and it’s a boost to confidence.

The Missing Trick is a delightful picture book full of fun that young children will adore.

About the Authors

Aimee Wright is a young illustrator living and working in Northumberland. Graduating with First Class Honours form Leeds Arts University in 2019, she has since worked with a range of clients. Drawing in pen and ink, her character-filled illustrations evoke nostalgia whilst also drawing directly from contemporary life.

There’s more about Aimee on her website.website.

C K Smouha is a children’s author living and working in Bristol. She is the author of Born Bad (Cicada, 2018), Sock Story (Cicada, 2019) and The Problem With Pierre (Cicada, 2020).

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