Skip to main content

Troll and the Oliver by Adam Stower

Adam Stower is best known here for illustrating wonderful chapter books, like Daniel Pinkwater's Mrs. Noodlekugel series and Andrew Clements's Keepers of the School series. His illustrations are expressive and detailed, reminding me of one of my favorites, Chris Riddell. And, while I love Stower's work in these books, I have to admit that I almost didn't review his newest picture book, Troll and the Oliver. I first read it at home on my own with a huge pile of review copies in front of me. Then, I took it to school with me and read it to a class of first graders visiting the library. Then kindergartners. Then fourth graders. I never got tired of reading Troll and the Oliver out loud and there didn't seem to be a cut off to the age of readers who enjoyed hearing it, making it perfect for reviewing!

Troll and the Oliver has a fairy tale feel to it that readers will instantly feel comfortable with. The story begins in the illustrations that precede the text, so pay attention! Echoes of the story of Little Red Riding Hood ripple through Troll and the Oliver, although bad guy is the star of this story. Troll tries to eat the Oliver every day at lunchtime as he walks through the woods to the market. And every day the Oliver escapes his furry paws, singing a saucy little song that will remind readers of the sassy Gingerbread Boy. It takes a reading or two to get used to saying, "the Oliver," or "an Oliver," so you might want to have a read through on your own first.

Tired of failure, Troll finally gives up and eats twigs and stones. You almost feel sorry for him! The point of view switches to a baffled Oliver, who finally realizes that Troll has given up trying to eat him! Bouncing through his kitchen where he is baking something that is clearly sweet and delicious, the Oliver sings one final song. This two page spread has an extra half page that is well camouflaged. The right side of the page, which is dominated by a large cupboard, flips to reveal Troll jumping out and eating the Oliver whole with one big CHOMP! I absolutely LOVE seeing the expressions on the kids's faces when I read this page! Little kids never get eating in a picture book, so this always makes them gasp. To their relief, the next page reveals Troll spitting the Oliver out because he tastes revolting. However, as the illustration above reveals, Troll and the Oliver find common ground. The Oliver never has to worry about being eaten again and Troll never goes hungry.

Stower ends his brilliant book with an author's note on how to fend off hungry trolls as well as a recipe from "Trolliver's Cookbook" for Troll Cupcakes that sounds delicious! While researching Adam Stower for this review, I discovered that he has written a sequel to Troll and the Oliver - Grumbug! Book two finds Troll and the Oliver running a successful cafe in the forest where they feed baked sweets to all the hungry trolls. Trouble arises when the Oliver's little sister goes missing. It seems she just might have wandered into the cave of the fiercest troll of all, the Grumbug... No publication date (yet) for Grumbug! in the US.

More picture books by Adam Stower:

Source: Review Copy


Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers remains the most read post on my blog since I wrote it in 2012. Because of this, I have cleaned up this post, tightened the writing and added in any pertinent information that has come about since it originally ran. When I first started in August of 2008, I was scrambling for content, finding my purpose and my voice and not always doing my best writing. How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers was one of the first articles I wrote and, as a bookseller and a book reviewer, and now as an elementary school librarian where I have gone from working with kids reading well beyond their grade level to kids reading well below, this philosophy remains my organizing principle and central focus when reading and recommending books to parents and children. 

In the interest of my mission and the attention this article continues to receive, I have updated and expanded this article and included a guide to using …

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…