Friday 8 September 2017

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 8th September 2017 - "A Werewolf Named Oliver James" by Nicholas John Frith (Alison Green Books)

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, our Book of the Week this week contains the GREATEST in-joke / reference I've ever seen in a children's book...
It comes about ¾ of the way through "A Werewolf Named Oliver James" by Nicolas John Frith and it's so tiny you'd easily miss it (in fact the object in question has two neat references on it but I will say no more than this, spoilers sweetie, spoilers but if you spot it too, drop a comment in the box at the end of this review PLEASE!)

That neat reference is not the sole reason that "Werewolf" is our book of the week, but it's certainly a contributing factor - adding overall to a story that is just so brilliantly original, funny, even heartwarming at the end that we just could not resist its charms. It's the perfect example of a children's story that ticks absolutely all of the 'rules' off one by one with consummate ease, with Nicholas making it all look like a doddle. Which, of course it really isn't.

But enough of my yakking, let's have a look at the story. Oliver James is an ordinary everyday school kid. Oliver loves band practice, and while waiting for the bus home one evening with his friends and teachers, Oliver suddenly wonders what the howlin' heck is going on when everyone suddenly disappears.

It gets worse - the bus sails past without even stopping, stranding Oliver in the middle of nowhere. While he waits for the next bus, someone shouts "WEREWOLF!"

Pretty scary stuff, and Oliver is afraid - until he realises that they're actually talking about him! Even his best friend from school won't come anywhere near him.

BUT being a werewolf isn't too bad at all. You have super strength, super speed and can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Getting home from school won't be such an issue after all when you can even keep up with trains! But then Oliver begins to worry. What on earth will mum and dad think when they see their bonny new werewolf son?

That's as far as we go when it comes to telling you too much about this one but it came out yesterday, so you have absolutely NO excuses, get out and get a copy today, it's just so brilliant!

The story is wildly entertaining but oh my, that artwork. We've always been huge fans of Gene Zion's work on the blog (the illustrator of the "Harry" books written by Margaret Bloy Graham) and Nicholas John Frith is definitely channeling some of that delicious golden age US art style in this tale.

But oh, that reference...that's just the killer. Do not miss it!

Charlotte's best bit: Spotting where everyone's hiding as Oliver, the werewolf, stalks through town.

Daddy's favourite bit: Yes, that reference (I know I keep going on about it but it tickled me to death). Nicholas, you're definitely a man after my own heart. This is a brilliantly entertaining book that deserves and demands to become a bedtime favourite, read and re-read and enjoyed just as much as we've enjoyed it. A fantastic example of a book that takes the children's picture book formula, sticks to it rigidly but produces something truly magical. Howling good stuff!

"A Werewolf Named Oliver James" by Nicholas John Frith is out now, published by Alison Green Books (kindly supplied for review).