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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
A Postcard to Ollis
by Ingunn Thon
Age Range: 9-11
Ten-year-old Ollis, short for Oda, Lisa, Louise, Ingrid and Sonja, has had her world turned upside down. She has a new baby brother Ian, who she adores, but when her mumís boyfriend, Einar moves in she feels neglected and abandoned Ė nothing will ever be the same again. Ollisí real dad ĎBorgepaí disappeared years ago and her mother refuses to talk about him. Fortunately Ollis has her best friend Gro Gran who lives next door. They share everything together, or almost! Ollis has been hiding a secret, one which she canít even share with Gro.
Gro is an adventurer, she likes to take risks which often makes Ollis a little nervous. They take bike rides into the birch forest navigating around bad tempered Billy Kapraís farm and the rather fierce Billy Goat of Christmas Past. One day they find a mysterious yellow mailbox with a postcard inside it addressed to Ollis. Then they meet the eccentric Borgny whose house in the forest holds more surprising discoveries. Ollis hasnít been completely honest with Gro. She knows more about the mysterious postcard than sheís letting on.
Norwegian script writer and puppeteer Ingunn Thonís debut novel, translated by Si‚n Mackie, has plenty of humour, excellent characterisation and a lively narrative. Ollis doesnít feel particularly brave but she is innovative, and loves nothing more than inventing wacky gadgets that sometimes donít always work out as planned. Her personality shines through the pages as she constantly searches for answers and slowly discovers a courage she never knew she had.
There is both comedy and pathos: scenes of forest escapades and Borgny with her strange hoard contrast with Ollisís heart-felt longing to find her father. A compelling and funny book about the importance of friendship and family relationships.
Ollis was named, by her mother, after five women who played important roles in Norwegian history and full details of these brave and innovative women appear on the inside back cover of the book. Delightfully amusing black and white artwork from Norwegian illustrator Nora Brech, whose own debut picture book Cornelia and the Jungle Machine was published in 2019, compliment the text perfectly.