Their favorite book this summer was Ottoline Goes to School, by Chris Riddell, the second in the Ottoline series. It's a great book for kids who like something a little quirky, a little mysterious, a little out of the ordinary. Best yet, the kind folks at HarperCollins have offered a free copy of Ottoline Goes to School - see below for details.
Ottoline Goes to SchoolOttoline is an independent young girl who likes solving mysteries and exploring the world. One day, Ottoline meets a new friend, Cecily Forbes-Lawrence III. Both of the girls spend a lot of time on their own - in fact, they are basically orphans since their parents are so busy with their own lives. Ottoline admires Cecily tremendously - she's so confident and self-assured. So Ottoline sends her parents a letter asking if she can go to Cecily's school. At the Alice B. Smith School for the Differently Gifted, a mystery unfolds: it soon becomes clear that the school is haunted. Ottoline isn't fazed by the bizarre events, and she starts to investigate the source of the hauntings.
by Chris Riddell
NY: HarperCollins, 2009. 176 pages
ages 7 - 10
Ottoline reminds me of the characters in Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events, which kids love. She's confident, and figures things out for herself because she really can't rely on anyone else. There's a certain quirkiness to both of these series as well. They give kids a sense that they can solve problems on their own, that they are smart in ways that grown-ups are not. It would be great to talk with children about the gifts they think they would discover for themselves at the Alice B. Smith School for the Differently Gifted.
Above and beyond the story, Chris Riddell's drawings fascinated my daughters. They loved the intricate nature of his illustrations, the hidden surprises in the pictures. When I told my 8-year old that there are eight ghosts hidden in the drawings, she had to read the book all over again! My 10-year old liked Riddell's style so much that she started reading the Far-Flung Adventure Series (a series of novels written by Chris Riddell and Paul Stewart) (PS: Amazon is running a Bargain Price discount on one of these right now).
If you're tempted by this, look at HarperCollin's website. You can look at the first two chapters in full.
Does this sound like something your child would like? Enter to win a free copy of Ottoline Goes to School. Leave a message, and let me know what other graphic novels or illustrated novels your child has fun reading. For an extra entry, become a follower (or let me know that you already follow) of Great Kid Books. For another extra entry, share the word - you can email friends with the link, post it on your Facebook account, or Twitter about it. Contest deadline: Saturday, September 12th.
The review copy was provided by HarperCollins. You can find this at your local public library or at Amazon.