'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Sunday 12 June 2016

Review: Ollie's Odyssey

I love the work of William Joyce. The man behind Toy Story, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore and The Guardians of Childhood is a creative genius who builds worlds that children and adults alike adore. I'm ridiculously happy to say that Ollie's Odyssey is no exception.

I'm sure all of us can remember our favourite toy. The toy that slept on our pillow. The toy that listened to our fears and shared our dreams. The toy that felt our tears. And the toy that we hugged tighter than tight. Ollie is Billy's favourite. And Billy loves him with every ounce of his being.

But not all toys are good. Zozo was once a happy clown toy, king of an amusement park stand. Children would try to hit him with a soft ball, and if they succeeded, they got to choose a toy to take home. But the amusement park fell on hard times, the owner of the stand changed, the soft balls turned hard, and Zozo became chipped and battered. Finally, one day, Nina the dancing doll — the toy Zozo himself loved — was won by a little girl and taken from him. His favourite was gone …

Since then Zozo's mission has been to steal all the favourite toys of all the children so they can feel the pain and loss that he felt. His henchmen, the Creeps, sneak around, finding favourites and bringing them to Zozo's lair in the old amusement park. Torn and dirty, the favourites are imprisoned by Zozo, and forced to watch as he tries to build a new Nina.

Then, one day, Ollie is snatched. Billy's favourite is now Zozo's prisoner. And Ollie is in more danger than any other favourite, for inside him is the bell that was once Nina's heart.

This is a simply wonderful story about friendship, courage, loss, memories and forgiveness. Billy and Ollie are the truest kind of friends — there for each other no matter what. But all the messages are secondary to the brilliance of William Joyce's writing. I entered Ollie's world and I didn't emerge until the very last word on the very last page. My daughter was just as entranced.

Younger kids will need an adult to read this one with them, slightly older kids will devour it on their own. Presented as a large-format hardcover, on high-quality paper stock and with gorgeous illustrations scattered throughout, this book would also make the perfect gift. Highly highly recommended!

Title: Ollie's Odyssey
Author/Illustrator: William Joyce
Publisher: Moonbot Books, $27.99 RRP
Publication Date: May 2016
Format: Hardcover with jacket
ISBN: 9781442473553
For ages: 7+
Type: Junior Fiction