Review of The Odious Ogre, by Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer

The Odious Ogre

story by Norton Juster
pictures by Jules Feiffer

Michael Di Capua Books (Scholastic), 2010. 32 pages.
Starred Review

When I heard that the creators of the brilliant book The Phantom Tollbooth, which I loved as a child, had done another collaboration, I knew I had to read it. The Odious Ogre is quite different from their earlier collaboration, since it’s a picture book rather than a chapter book. All the better to make the most of Jules Feiffer’s illustrations.

This is a book that begs to be read aloud. Not to the preschool storytime crowd necessarily — unless they are very good listeners — but definitely to young elementary school classrooms. The large picture book format makes the most of the ogre’s true odiousness for all to see, and the language — Ah! the language!

You see, the odious ogre who has been terrorizing the populace “did have quite an impressive vocabulary, due mainly to having inadvertently swallowed a large dictionary while consuming the head librarian in one of the nearby towns.” The ogre says:

“No one can resist me…. I am invulnerable, impregnable, insuperable, indefatigable, insurmountable.”

But the ogre had never met anyone like the pretty little girl with her flower garden. She is completely unimpressed.

“Oh, you’re not really so terrible,” the girl insisted, with a lovely, musical laugh. “Overbearing perhaps, arrogant for sure, somewhat self-important, a little too mean and violent, I’m afraid, and a bit messy. Your shoes could certainly use a polishing, but I’ll bet if you brushed your teeth, combed your hair, found some new clothes, and totally changed your attitude, you’d be quite nice.”

This book clearly shows that “the terrible things that can happen when you come face-to-face with an Ogre can sometimes happen to the Ogre and not to you.”

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Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

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