Cybils is a review backlog, and concomitant guilt, partly because I appreciate the publisher's making the effort to send review copies, and partly because the books I haven't reviewed are just sitting here at home instead of up the street at the public library making new friends (I've been doing it so long that books I donated to the library my first year of doing the Cybils are now being weeded....sigh). But in any event, this evening I am posting about one of the review copies that came my way--Ollie's Odyssey, by William Joyce (Atheneum, April 2016) one that I think the young library patrons and their parents will be very pleased with.
It is a stuffed toy come to life book, but though that has been done before, Joyce has made a fresh and interesting story from it. Ollie was made by Billy's mom to be his special friend, and they love each other very much. But then one horrible day Ollie is kidnapped! And Billy must break his parents rules, and head out alone into the night, to find his most Favorite friend.
There's a whole back story to the kidnapper, a clown doll named Zozo, who presided over a carnival booth. There he fell in love with a ballerina doll, who was taken from him to be the favorite of a little girl. Warped by this loss, Zozo turned dark, and created an army of clockwork creeps to scour the world for favorite stuffed toys and dolls, hoping to somehow find the one doll he's seeking. And Ollie, being a favorite, has fallen into Zozo's hands.....
But Ollie, being a very bright stuffed toy indeed, escapes, and finds himself in a junkyard. There he finds unlikely allies, who agree to take on Zozo's army of creeps and save the other toys. His new friends are a very odd crew indeed--including a bottle opener, a pet rock, and an aluminum can, but though odd they are stalwart. As is Billy, still a very little kid making his way through the dark night to find his friend.
And all ends well, which is satisfying.
Joyce's charming illustrations, of which there are many, bring the characters to life, and though Zozo the clown doll is scary as all get out (as is the case with so many malevolent clown dolls), the sweetness of Ollie compensates. The result is a lovely read to share with young kids who can cope with malevolent clown dolls! I don't think it's one that most 4th and 5th graders would be interested in, but on the other hand, a 2nd or 3rd grader who is not in too much of a hurry to grow up themselves might well enjoy reading it to themselves.