Thursday, 1 August 2013

Troll and the Oliver by Adam Stower (Templar Publishing)

Monster books - they all seem to have one thing in common. The poor monster never seems to win but with a neat little bit of switching around, here's "Troll and the Oliver" by Adam Stower.

Every single day Troll, a rather menacing looking blue beastie with a sneaky expression, beastly claws and a rumbly tum, tries to eat Oliver - a red haired cheeky and happy little boy.

Oliver is far too smart, far too small, and far too fast for the lumbering Troll though - so every day the Troll systematically fails in his mission to enjoy Oliver Souffle, Oliver Burgers, perhaps even a bit of Oliver Au Gratin.

Troll is downhearted. Every time he thinks he's come up with a winning plan to consume the little tyke, Oliver outwits him.

Stop, pause for a second here - I have a question for parents reading this review. Are you like me? Have you ever wished that just once Wyle E. Coyote came up with something from his Acme catalogue that would see him finishing the cartoon feasting on hot roasted Road Runner? Or perhaps wished secretly that Scratchy would put Itchy through a mangle and turn him into a mouse-sized pancake? Better still, wished that Tom could catch Jerry and make him blimmin' well apologise for all the times he'd stomped, squashed, crushed, blown up, run over or dropped anvils on the poor moggy's head?

Persevere then with Troll and the Oliver because the double-pumped payoff is so utterly deliciously satisfying that for a tiny tiny moment your little one will sit agog (I can't quite tell you why, but when you get to "that bit" you will love it, trust me).

As monster books go this is pretty much perfect. It sets its cards on the table early on, then gathers them in one by one in such a manner that you will reach the end, flip the book back to page one and begin all over again. Troll and Oliver are brilliant characters (you really will not like Oliver at first, but bear with, bear with!) and like all clever ideas for children's stories, it's such a simple premise but beautifully executed. We just could not get enough of it.

Charlotte's best bit: "That Page" - Yep you'll know it when you hit it and you really will love it. Now THAT'S how you do dark.

Daddy's favourite bit: Like Charlotte, I just utterly loved that page and the way it makes both storyteller and avid child listener(s) feel. This is a book that you are going to get a great deal of pleasure reading aloud to little ones, or sniggering secretly about to yourself. Just brilliant, truly brilliant.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Templar Publishing)