An entertaining mashup of history and fantasy, with a likably audacious heroine plotting against the Nazis.


Olivia's Story

During World War II, the future of two worlds—human and fairy—depends on a young American woman in this middle-grade novel.

In 1942, Olivia, under 30, is excited about leaving her Wyoming home for New York City. Soon, she gets a job translating German documents and preparing reports for a handsome, late-30s man called only “the major,” although he becomes Mike Layton after further acquaintance. Also working for Mike is Vivian, who’s Olivia’s age; the two become good friends and roommates. In 1944, Olivia and Vivian are taking a walk when a car mows into them, killing Vivian. It’s no accident; Olivia recognizes the driver, a co-worker, who must be a German spy. A month later, Mike departs for London, leaving Olivia in charge. Then one night, a delicate, winged blue woman brings Olivia life-changing news: “We need your help. Soon the future of the world is to be placed in your hands.” In the fairy realm, called Fridsamt, Olivia is asked to join the Fairy Alliance, become protector of the realm, rescue Mike from his German captors, and defeat the evil Gray Jinn who’s aiding the Nazis—perhaps to develop an atomic weapon. With the help of some fairy inventions, Olivia becomes governess at a German colonel’s home and carries out her bold and risky plans. Dahl (Bugga’s Tales, 2015, etc.) packs a lot of action into this fast-moving story. Olivia is clever, patient, and brave, with a certain spunky American flair: having outfoxed a sneering German general, she ruffles his hair and runs whistling up the stairs. She seems much younger than nearly 30, but that’s a quibble. The uncredited illustrations add a nice touch with their vintage-comics style. As with the Indiana Jones film series, the paranormal plays well with Nazis and their often-cartoonish evil. But given the very real evil of Nazi death camps, readers may wonder why Olivia and the fairies aren’t more concerned about stopping that horror rather than focusing on Britain’s vulnerability to bombs.

An entertaining mashup of history and fantasy, with a likably audacious heroine plotting against the Nazis. 

Pub Date: June 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4834-5172-5

Page Count: 174

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2016

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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