Ollie's Odyssey by William Joyce
Moonbot Books, 2016. ISBN 9781442473553
(Age: 7+) Recommended. Ollie's Odyssey is a cinematic narrative, an epic 'a-venture' that explores the power of friendship, courage and determination, the forces of good and evil and even love and loss. This is a multi-layered story centred on the world of favourite toys. On the crisp white pages, told from either Billy's or Ollie's point of view, we engage with their special friendship with special words - Yum for food to the simple pleasures of being a toddler and a young boy with a creative imagination. The love of a favourite toy holds a special bond. When Billy is born with a heart murmur, his mother lovingly sews him a stuffed toy, a soft rabbit teddy named Ollie. Inside she stitches a tinkling bell heart from her favourite childhood wooden doll Nina.
Interwoven into the plot, on darker pages, marked with foxing the antagonist appears - Zozo a chipped and battered clown toy abandoned long ago by an amusement stand owner. Years ago, this toy loved a wooden dancing doll with a bell heart. After Nina was won by a little girl and taken from him, Zozo's wanted other children to suffer by stealing their favourite toys and hiding them underground in the derelict tunnels. The clown mastermind has created mechanical henchmen the Creeps who assist him with his wicked plans. Torn and dirty, the favourites are imprisoned and forced to watch as he builds a new Nina, all she needs is a bell heart. Joyce's scary painted illustrations display Zozo's dark personality and his evil character.
After Ollie is stolen, Billy's strength of character and courage shines through, with the aid of a band of misfits - the Junkyard Gang, he plans and carries out a rescue mission. This is a unique story, for a special audience of readers who still enjoy the magic of toys, who will appreciate William Joyce's imaginative characters and delight in the Billy and Ollie's adventures.