#889 – Ollie’s Odyssey by William Joyce

ollies odessey Ollie’s Odyssey
Written and Illustrated by William Joyce
Moonbot/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Antheum BYR  4/12/2016
298 pages   Ages 8—12

“In the secret realm of toys there are many mysteries.

“There is the Code of the Toys, which is as ancient as childhood. There’s also the magic of becoming a child’s favorite, highest honor in the Toy World.

“Billy’s mother made Ollie by hand. He was a toy who would matter. He becomes Billy’s best friend, confidant, pal, and yes, Billy’s “favorite.”

“But there are villains in the Toy World, and Zozo, the clown king, is the most feared. He and his toy henchmen (the Creeps) have sworn to steal and imprison favorite toys until they forget their children and become forever lost. When Ollie is toynapped, Billy must rescue his beloved favorite from Zozo’s subterranean lair in the Dark Carnival Place, past the park, through the woods, and into the night. Never has a journey of ten blocks been more epic.” [inside jacket]

The Story word count 568
Billy is born with a small hole in his heart. While his parents worry and wait, Billy’s mother makes him a one-of-a-kind toy. The toy looks like a teddy bear-bunny with one unusual, very special ingredient—a bell heart. Billy names his first toy Ollie. Billy and Ollie are inseparable. They tell each other secrets. They do everything together, as a team. Billy does not go anywhere without Ollie. One day, “barely” six-year-old, Billy asks Ollie an important question.

“You know what my favorite thing is?”
.     .“Good-night slobbers from your mom and dad?”
“Well, that’s pretty close.”
.     .“A really yum day when we get to play and stuff?”
“That’s pretty close too.”
.     .“Then I dunno, Billy.”
“My favorite thing in this room, in this house, and in this country and the whole universe of Earth and outer space and everyplace that we don’t even know about yet, my favoritest, thing is . . . “
.     .“What?!”
Billy looked at Ollie and smiled and said: “You.”

At that moment, Ollie became Billy’s favorite toy and a target for a very nasty villain.

newbornollieMany years earlier, not far from Billy’s home, was a carnival. There, the carnival game “Bonk-a-Zozo” became popular with kids. To win a prize, kids threw a ball at, and hit, the clown Zozo. The owner replaced each won toy. One day the replacement toy was a doll named Nina. Only Zozo could see Nina, as she’s placed out of sight, behind many other toys hung around the stall, Nina and Zozo became best friends. Because kids could not see Nina, she never left Zozo. Time passed. The owner stopped showing up. A new owner never replaced won toys, and eventually the kids could see Nina. One day a little girl won Nina, immediately calling the toy her favorite. (Well, soon enough that Zozo could hear.)

Today, Zozo still looks for his Nina. He built a crew to help him find her, which he calls “The Creeps.” The creeps, (horrible creepy critters), toynapped every favorited toy they can find trying to bring Zozo his Nina. Favorite toys not Nina become captives in an underground prison, strapped to the wall. Soon, the toynapped toy forgets everything about their child. This pleases Zozo, who is now so cold-hearted darkness falls upon his world night and day. When Billy declares Ollie his favorite, the creeps got wind and are after Ollie.

9781442473553.in01When Billy is nearly a grown-up—a solid six-year-old—the Wedding takes place. After convincing his parents Ollie must attend, Billy puts Ollie in his backpack. At the church, Billy places the backpack, still containing Ollie, on the floor by his feet and then announces the wedding as it proceeds—like he heard sports announcers call games—so Ollie didn’t miss the wedding. When the little family gets home, Billy’s backpack is empty of Ollie. The favorite toy somehow got out of the backpack and was now by itself where Billy ate his first wedding cake. Billy cannot wait until morning for his father to retrieve Ollie. He decides to save his friend tonight.

With a backpack full of supplies—flashlight saber, crayons, snacks, plastic action figures, Pegasus—Billy heads out for his favorite toy, not knowing that the creeps kidnapped Ollie. I hope Billy can save Ollie from Zozo and his henchmen. But first, Billy must cross the street without an adult, which is against the law.

Review word count 595
Ollie’s Odyssey tells two stories, from two generations, and then brings them together for a larger tale. Billy and Ollie are one story, told in the present. Zozo and Nina are the other, told in both the past and present. Each tale is intriguing and has its own vibe. Bonk-a-Zozo takes place in a carnival, which is now defunct, yet still standing in a morbid sort of way. Now known as The Dark Carnival, and a place Billy is forbad from entering. It will take much courage on Billy’s part to enter the only entrance to Zozo’s eerie underground lair.

9781442473553.in03Billy and Ollie’s tale is a love story only a child can understand, because us adults forget about toys when grown up things take their place in our world. Billy and Ollie are a perfect match. The two grow up together, learning together, with their own language developed from Ollie’s love of words. They go on “A-ventures” together, where there are no rules. Anything “Yum” is really-good, but if it is “Bliss” it’s the very best. Billy and Ollie speaking to each other are some of the best pages. I laughed through nearly every one of those pages, and instantly wanted to reread them.

Bringing these two tales together makes for a scary story of rescues and redemptions. Billy must save Ollie, who tries to take on Zozo. Becoming the leader is not comfortable to Ollie. His role has always been second in command, with Billy always in the lead. And then that was always pretend stuff, not real like this Zozo character. But once Billy is captured, Ollie must rescue him, for Ollie is “The Grand High Safemaster of Planet Billy.” Thanks to some help from the Junkyard Gang, Ollie attempts to do just that:  lead and rescue Billy.

9781442473553.in02Kids will love the sweet Ollie and the amazing relationship the toy has with Billy, its child. Most everyone had a favorite toy. Mine was a pink, one-eyed, teddy bear. Another one-eyed teddy bear, imprisoned by Zozo, finds he still has a hero and leader in him. Toy Story is a fun story, but Ollie’s Odyssey has it beat. The wonderful storyteller, William Joyce has written a story every parent and child needs to read. Joyce writes like a six-year-old, getting Billy’s world perfectly. From the crossing guards to Billy thinking crossing the street by himself is against the law (once across, he expects police will arrest him). Joyce’s word play brings some of the best moments up another notch.

Ollie’s Odyssey will remain with me a long time. This is not a fleeting story, waiting for a new story to replace it. Ollie and Billy are iconic characters, or will be soon enough. The illustrations are beautiful, drawing the reader back in time with the sepia toned images. The color-infused images keep us in the present with Billy and Ollie. Even the pages are different tones. Billy’s story is a light page, while Zozo’s pages, tinged in brown, are darker just like Zozo.

olliendcanOllie’s Odyssey is truly a story you do not want to miss. The story contains much humor and even more heart. It is about redemption, new beginnings, forgiveness, bravery, and hope. You can read Ollie’s Odyssey as a bedtime tale, one chapter per night, or in larger chunks. I can guarantee you will want to read as much of Ollie’s Odyssey as you can, as often as you can, once you’ve read page one. Ollie’s Odyssey is a story you cannot forget, and, “if it was remembered, then it was true.”

OLLIE’S ODYSSEY. Text and Illustrations copyright © 2016 by William Joyce. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, PUBLISHER, New York, NY.

AmazonBook DepositoryIndie BooksApple BooksSimon & Schuster.

Find Ollie’s Odyssey on Goodreads HERE.
FREE Middle School Survival Kit HERE.

William Joyce:  http://www.williamjoyce.com/
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Moonbot/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Antheum BYR are imprints of Simon and Schuster.

Reprinted with permission from OLLIE’S ODYSSEY © 2016 by William Joyce, Antheum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, Illustrations © 2016 by William Joyce.




Copyright © 2016 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Full Disclosure: Ollie’s Odyssey by William Joyce, and received from Moonbot/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Antheum Books for Young Readers, (are imprints of Simon and Schuster), is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Ollie’s Odyssey
Written and Illustrated by William Joyce
Moonbot/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Antheum BYR 4/12/2016


12 thoughts on “#889 – Ollie’s Odyssey by William Joyce

    • Erik, I picked this up from the library yesterday and, since it didn’t register with me that it’s a novel, I expected a picture book (since it’s by William Joyce). It is absolutely stunning to look at and from the first page, I was totally drawn in. I can’t wait to read it! 😀


        • It really is such a gorgeous book. I’m loving the story! SO glad you reviewed it ’cause I’m thinking I would’ve missed it. I didn’t see it on the shelf at Barnes 😦 I need to look where the novels are in case, for some reason, I missed it there. How DARE they not have this glorious book by WILLIAM JOYCE, for goodness sake! :-O


  1. I LOVE, LOVE, LOOOOOOOOOOVE William Joyce’s work! I’m wondering why I haven’t seen it face front on the shelves at Barnes, though! I’m so glad you recommended it to me on Goodreads and got my neglectful butt over here, Sue. Now I will look for it 😀 Can’t wait!


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