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Ollie's Odyssey (Hardcover)

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Ollie's Odyssey Cover Image
By William Joyce, William Joyce (Illustrator)
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Staff Reviews

Anyone who has ever loved a toy can see something of themselves in Billy and Ollie. Some of us may even see ourselves in the despotic Zozo, twisted and hurt by his own losses. Zozo the clown is a wonderful villain for a chapter book--at turns terrifying and cruel, but also desperate and lonely, seeking very little more than to be loved himself as Ollie is loved. Joyce's toy characters are all wonderfully human, after everything, and their desires are human desires. And Joyce's marvelous illustrations are the icing on the cake, as always.

— Demi


From the creator of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and The Guardians of Childhood comes an grand adventure of valor, friendship, and a look into the mysterious world of favorite toys.

In the secret realm of toys, there are many mysteries.

There is the Code of the Toys, which is as ancient as childhood.

There’s also the magic of becoming a child’s favorite, the highest honor in the Toy World.

Made by hand by Billy’s mother, Ollie is a special toy, “a toy who will matter.” He becomes Billy’s best friend, confidant, pal, and yes, Billy’s “favorite.”

But there are villains in the Toy World, and Zozo, the clown king, is the most feared. He and his toy henchman (the Creeps) have sworn to steal and imprison favorite toys until they forget their children and become forever lost.

When Ollie is toynapped, Billy must rescue his beloved favorite from Zozo’s subterranean lair in the old Carnival Place, past the park, through the woods, and into the night.

Never has a journey of ten blocks been more epic.

About the Author

William Joyce does a lot of stuff but children’s books are his true bailiwick (The Guardians, Dinosaur Bob, George Shrinks, and the #1 New York Times bestselling The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which is also his Academy Award–winning short film, to name a few). He lives in Shreveport, Louisiana. Talk to William Joyce and look at upcoming work at @HeyBillJoyce on Twitter and Instagram.

William Joyce does a lot of stuff but children’s books are his true bailiwick (The Guardians, Dinosaur Bob, George Shrinks, and the #1 New York Times bestselling The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which is also his Academy Award–winning short film, to name a few). He lives in Shreveport, Louisiana. Talk to William Joyce and look at upcoming work at @HeyBillJoyce on Twitter and Instagram.

Praise For…

The bond betweena child and a toy is a very special thing. For six-year-old Billy thatconnection exists with Ollie, the stuffed animal his mother made him when hewas born. Resembling a teddy bear with rabbit ears, the endearing Ollie isimportant for a reason beyond being Billy’s favorite; sewn into Ollie’s chestis a tinkling bell from Nina, the precious childhood toy of Billy’s mother.With a seasoned storyteller's skill, Joyce sets the stage for an incredibleadventure, using Billy’s childish perspective (and vocabulary) to convey thevastness and scariness of the world beyond one’s backyard, as well as to createa place where toys can come to life. Not far from Billy’s house lie the remainsof an abandoned carnival, where an embittered toy clown, Zozo, has growncrooked and cruel with hate. His army of Creeps (wicked minions built fromscraps) kidnaps the toys Zozo despises most—favorites—and his sights are set onOllie. Joyce’s beautiful color illustrations put the sweetness of Billy andOllie’s relationship and the creepiness of Zozo’s underworld on full display.Sensitive readers may find Zozo too frightening, but many will get a thrillfrom the perilous, high-stakes adventure, where bravery and friendship reign supreme.

HIGH-DEMANDBACKSTORY: Astalwart of children’s literature, Joyce will drive inherent interest evenfurther with an author tour.

—Julia Smith

A cloth "teddy rabbit"and his beloved boy rescue one another from a toy clown gone bad. Loading hislatest plushy epic with precious observations—"In the realm of toys beingfavorited was a special distinction. It was as yum as it got"—andpop-culture references, Joyce pits 6 ½-year-old Billy and his homemadecompanion Ollie against Zozo, a wooden carnival clown whose love for aballerina doll named Nina has, after years of separation and physical neglect,transmogrified into hatred for all toys that are beloved of humans. When Zozo'sarmy of Creeps ("stunted, scroungy creatures" made from bits oftrash) "toynap" Ollie, Billy sets out with his lightsaber and somesnacks to rescue him. When the Creeps capture the little white boy, though, theroles reverse. With a band of recruits and inspired by a broken typewriter's"Damn t e torpedoes, full speed a ead," Ollie returns to subterraneanDark Carnival Place for a brisk dust-up with the baddies. The narrative isprinted on artificially age-stained paper and punctuated with largeillustrations—of toys loved to shabbiness and genuinely sinisteradversaries—that add golden-toned atmosphere to the "huge a-venture."In the end, the message is no different from countless of its sentimental ilk:"It didn't matter if something was pretend or real; if it was remembered,then it was true." Velveteen Rabbit and Toy Story meet Phantom of theOpera. For better or worse. (Fantasy. 10-13)
— Kirkus Reviews

Joyce (the Guardians of Childhood series) delivers a deliciousremix of classic movie and storybook themes: imprisoned toys, talking junkyardfriends, and a doll lost a generation ago. Six-and-a-half-year-old Billyreturns from a family wedding to find that his beloved stuffed toy, Ollie, isgone. Readers know that he has been abducted by miniature mechanical henchmenand taken to the lair of Zozo, an eerie clown ruined by his own bitterness.Timid Ollie manages to escape and even spies Billy for a moment, only to findhimself tossed away. Has Billy renounced him? In a rousing climax, Ollie andhis loyal junkyard allies overcome Zozo and free the toys: "Okay," hetells his troops, "Our plan is gonna be: do some Robin Hood, and some Usethe Force Luke, and some Trojan Horse, and some... Yellow Submarine."Though tense moments abound in this all-boy adventure, it's always clear thatBilly and Ollie will prevail. Joyce's irresistible illustrations and joyouswordplay ("I am the Grand High Safemaster of Planet Billy," Ollietells himself) are icing on the cake. Ages 7–11.
— Publishers Weekly

Many children’s books have been written about the secret life of toys, but Joyce’s storytelling and original characters elevate this novel. Meet Billy and his favorite plush toy, Ollie, a bear/rabbit mash-up Billy’s mother made for him with a remnant from her own cherished girlhood doll. Billy and Ollie grow up together over the course of six years, sharing secrets, imaginary escapades, and observations about the baffling adult world.The friends’ bliss is threatened by the existence of an underground kingdom of abandoned toys who have never known the love of a child. The ruler of this kingdom is Zozo, a former carnival-game clown doll whose heartbreaking backstory is the stuff of tragic opera. Zozo’s anguish compels him to imprison any toy that’s been “favorited” by a child, and his minions—the darkly menacing yet comically maniacal Creeps—kidnap Ollie, setting up the novel’s conflict.Billy leaves home in search of his lost companion, leading to an epic battle between Zozo’s army and a team of charmingly odd heroes Ollie befriends,including a tin can, pet rock, and bottle opener. The third-person narration retains a storyteller’s wisdom as it shifts between Billy and Ollie’s naive perspectives; pacing is leisurely despite Zozo’s sinister presence being introduced fairly early in the plot. Joyce’s full-page illustrations in rich but muted tones capture deeply emotional moments and reinforce the novel’s nostalgic mood. VERDICT With all the feel of a modern classic, this is an odyssey readers of all age swill want to take again and again; a wonderful choice for read-alouds.
— School Library Journal
Product Details
ISBN: 9781442473553
ISBN-10: 144247355X
Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Publication Date: April 12th, 2016
Pages: 304
Language: English