Simon & Schuster Australia
- Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
- 304 pages
- ISBN 9781442473553
- April 2016
- RRP $27.99
This is a Hans Christian Andersen-style tale of magic and wonder that echoes of the same tenderness as works such as The Velveteen Rabbit.
When Billy is just a baby he has a problem with his heart which makes his parents fearful and anxious until they know the outcome. To assuage her fretting, Billy’s mother creates a special toy for him. Made of soft textured fabrics and containing the ‘bell’ heart from her own favourite childhood toy, Nina the dancing doll, Ollie becomes Billy’s best friend and most treasured companion. In short, he is Billy’s favourite and as Billy grows up, strong and happy, Ollie shares in every single A-venture.
Running parallel to the story of Billy and Ollie, we discover a dark world of hidden menace with a history stretching back to a carnival where Nina the dancing doll once entranced Billy’s mother. In those days a very popular sideshow attraction was the Bonk-a-Zozo, one of those games where patrons try to win a toy by hitting a target. In its heyday, toys came and went regularly but there was always a happy communal feeling to the booth with Zozo the clown, the target, reigning benevolently over all. Then the dancing doll arrived but was hung so discreetly that few customers noticed her. However Zozo had eyes only for her – and she responded with her own eyes – as no words ever passed between them. As time goes by the carnival becomes less and less popular and on a day that changed the course of events forever, a little girl came with her father and won the prized doll. Taking her away, she claimed her as her favourite toy and Zozo’s clown heart hardens and his thoughts turn dark.
Zozo makes it his mission to recruit the Creeps whose only mission is to steal the favourite toys of all children – including Billy. When Billy is made to attend a BORING wedding with his parents, he secretly takes Ollie with him but disaster strikes and Ollie is toynapped.
The ensuing rescue mission is filled with drama but as it must, love and bravery triumphs. ‘Never has a journey of ten blocks been so epic.’
The story is beautiful and the artwork enchanting. A beautiful hardcover with glorious glossy pages, this is a testament to books being a work of art in themselves.
Browse inside the pages here.
This is a book to treasure. As a sustained read-aloud it will engage its audience from the very beginning and I predict lead to much discussion about the demonstrated values and philosophy.
Highly recommended for children from around 8 to 12.