By Norton Juster, Michael Di Capur Books, $17.95, 32 pages
Ogres don’t usually have good reputations. But in Norton Juster’s book The Odious Ogre, you’ll meet one that is even more horrible than the rest. According to the villagers, he is extraordinarily large, exceedingly ugly, unusually angry, constantly hungry, and absolutely merciless. But no one has actually ever met him. One day the ogre meets a young maiden who isn’t afraid of him. She confidently invites him to tea and a muffin. Find out what happens when an odious ogre meets his match. Jules Feiffer’s illustrations are magnificent. He uses watercolors that make his drawings feel like something you’d find in old-fashioned fairy tales. Juster’s descriptions of characters and events are fascinating. For example, when the ogre is thinking about how no one will challenge him, he says, “I am invulnerable, impregnable, insuperable, indefatigable, [and] insurmountable.” Readers will find out that the ogre has an impressive vocabulary because he swallowed a dictionary while consuming a librarian in a nearby town. Children will learn about adjectives and parents and teachers can incorporate the book into a lesson on using descriptive words. It will help to have a dictionary handy for some of the more complicated words (but don’t eat it!).
Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin