Ollie’s Odyssey is a beautiful story in the tradition of The Velveteen Rabbit, told in William Joyce’s typical sweet, inspiring style. When Billy is born, the doctors are worried about his heart. As they wait for more information from the doctors Billy’s mother sews him a special toy–a cross between a teddy bear and a rabbit–using the jingle bell from her own favorite childhood toy as its heart.
The bear/rabbit is christened Ollie and becomes Billy’s favorite toy. Their adventures resemble those of Andy and Woody & Buzz Lightyear in Disney’s Toy Story saga. Meanwhile, in the deserted carnival is Zozo the Clown King–the main figure in an old carnival game where children used to win toys that went home with them and became “favorites.” Zozo has never belonged to a child and although he began as a loving, generous toy, heartache has caused him to harden his heart, live in bitterness and make it his mission to destroy “favorite” toys.
From Ollie and Billy’s joyous and innocent games, Zozo’s hideout when his minions kidnap Ollie from a family wedding, a junkyard full of forgotten odds and ends to the ultimate rescue attempt where Billy and Ollie might each have to give the other up in order to save each other this is a classic tale of true friendship and the generous, everlasting qualities of love in each of our lives.
Both joyful and poignant in age-appropriate language and content, Ollie’s Odyssey is a terrific read-aloud at home or in the classroom as well as a great independent reading choice for 2nd grade and up!