Ottoline's parents are avid collectors of many interesting things, and they frequently travel around the world on their collecting expeditions. Ottoline stays at home with Mr. Monroe, a hairy little creature her parents found in a bog in Norway, who has been her dear friend, caregiver and constant companion from the time she was an infant.
Her parents make sure Ottoline and Mr. Monroe are well taken care of, and have hired a number of business to come to the apartment to take care of such necessary things as folding clothes, changing light bulbs, plumping pillows, cooking meals, making beds and cleaning bathrooms. This allows Ottoline to focus her attention on more important things, such as writing and drawing in her notebooks, reading the newspaper and maintaining her own collections. Her parents also send her postcards regularly, and these are reproduced in the book, front and back, and her mother displays an intriguing ability of knowing exactly what is going on (or will be going on) when the postcards arrive.
Ottoline is an intelligent, curious child. When Mr. Monroe spots a flyer for a missing lapdog, Ottoline brings it home and soon discovers a connection between the lapdog and a series of burglaries that have occurred in her neighborhood. Ottoline, who we learn has recently completed her certification as a Master of Disguise from the Academy of Subterfuge, comes up with a plan, aided by the fearless Mr. Munroe, to nab the perpetrators.
When this book came into my library, I immediately snatched it to bring home to my girls. I knew right away that its intricate, whimsical line illustrations (many with captions, arrows, and instructions to turn to other pages for further information) would be extremely appealing to them. The book was certainly appealing to me, and in the end I read it to them over the course of two evenings, and we loved it! Mr. Monroe charmed my children to no end, and we all pored over the drawings, which contain important clues regarding the mystery and are just plain fun to look at. Ottoline is smart and kindhearted and makes a delightful detective, and Mr. Monroe is absolutely adorable. I am very much looking forward to reading the next book in this quirky new series. I highly recommend this one!
Books in the Ottoline series:
1. Ottoline and the Yellow Cat
2. Ottoline Goes to School
3. Ottoline at Sea (forthcoming)
Ottoline and the Yellow Cat by Chris Riddell (HarperCollins Publishers, 2007)
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