In her debut children’s novel, Shelton offers an amusing tale of an intergalactic explorer-turned-hatmaker and her adventures on the planet Ooleeoo.
Tilda Pinkerton crash-lands her traveling pod on the outskirts of Moodle, a city on the planet Ooleeoo. A pair of Ooleeons witnesses Tilda’s landing; when they reach her, she’s desperately seeking water for her French-speaking pet fish, Frank. (Although she’s an adult, she looks like a 7-year-old girl, because younger bodies travel through space easier.) Her pod dissolves into a puddle and then grows into a tree larger than any on the planet. Tilda makes her home there but soon realizes that she has a bit of amnesia; after she grows to her normal adult size, she can’t remember why she came to Ooleeoo. She also doesn’t know why she has an antenna and the Ooleeons do not, or why her antenna is bent. A leaf falls on her head and magically transforms into a large top hat, complete with a tank inside it for Frank. (The hat also has room for her other pet, a pet toad named Gladys who thinks she’s a cat.) Years go by, and Tilda becomes well known on Ooleeoo for making hats that help to bring out their wearers’ true talents. Readers later learn that Tilda is part of an alien race called Light Throwers trying to fight a galaxy-killing entity known as the Keeper of Darkness. Older children will enjoy this book’s creatively kooky world, although some descriptions might prove a bit confusing for very young readers. Ooleeoo emerges as a whimsical world where cows eat chocolate grass and give chocolate milk, girls pull music notes out of the air and walking trees serve as transportation. Shelton uses high-level vocabulary and wordplay throughout the book, but handy footnotes will let young readers in on the jokes. Tilda often speaks in somewhat Seussian rhyme and her personality has a cheery similarity to that of Mary Poppins. She’s a great fictional creation that young readers will root for.
A playful novel full of loveable characters, and a fine start to a new book series.