Ollis (the abbreviation of her real name – Oda Lise Louise Ingrid Sonja – the names of five inspirational Norwegian women) feels abandoned. No because of the arrival of a little brother whom she adores, but the the arrival of a new ‘dad’. Einer is not her dad. Her real father, her Borgepa, disappeared and her mother will not talk about him at all. Perhaps he is dead? Then Ollis finds a postcard – a postcard from Borgepa. He does love her and she is determined to find him.
Lively characterisation, lively narrative seamlessly translated come together in this enjoyable narrative from the Norwegian author Ingunn Thon, perfectly visualised by Nora Brech. The theme is very familiar as Ollis searches for answers when faced with a change that will affect the way she sees her life and her relationship with her mother. Ollis steps off the page, a very real ten year old, ready to follow her friend Gro (surely a Norwegian Pippi Longstocking) on exciting adventures as they face down the Billy Goat of Christmas Past. Not all these adventures will be comfortable, and may result in tension. Ollis may have to learn to be independent. She will also have to learn that not all stories have a neat ending, that assumptions are dangerous, that relationships can be messy but still loving. Young readers will revel in the eccentricities of the characters – Gro and Borgny in particular – and the freedom enjoyed by the two girls as they race through the Norwegian woods. They will be impressed by Ollis’ inventive abilities (and perhaps, inspired) and by Gro’s confidence and imagination. This is very definitely a book to recommend to lively KS2 readers. A welcome addition to any library
PS. And the author provides a useful note at the end on the five inspirational women behind Ollis’ name.