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Ottoline and the Yellow Cat Hardcover – April 29, 2008


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
  • Series: Ottoline
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (April 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061448796
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061448799
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #609,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 3–5—While her parents are off traveling the world collecting "interesting things," Ottoline Brown lives in an elaborate apartment in Big City with her best friend, guardian, and accomplice in forming clever plans. He is called Mr. Monroe and is a silent creature from Norway who resembles Cousin Itt from the Addams Family. Ottoline solves a mystery involving a cat burglar, who is actually a cat, and the missing lapdogs of well-to-do women. The story is told through the text and the detailed line drawings that appear on each page. Done in black and white with red highlighting a quirky detail or two, the illustrations add humor, depth, and momentum to the narrative. The quickly moving plot is grounded in real emotion. Ottoline is a precocious child who misses her absent parents; in one scene she unwittingly treats Mr. Monroe with a childish cruelty that most parents will recognize. The equal ratio of text to illustrations makes this a good choice for reluctant readers, although there is some challenging vocabulary. There is enough detail in the exceptional illustrations to satisfy any graphic novel fan.—Caroline Tesauro, Radford Public Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Don’t let the page count fool you. This “novel” is probably more pictures than text. It’s not, however, a graphic novel in the sense of a sequential telling; nor does it follow the model Brian Selznick used so effectively in The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007), where art replaced text to further the story. The pictures here simply add texture to the words they accompany—but what a delight they are. Award-winning British cartoonist Riddell (the Edge Chronicles, with Paul Stewart) illustrates in pen and ink, enhanced by crosshatching and a smattering of bright red, to concoct a cast of quirky characters and amazingly detailed backdrops on which they interact. The story, a lightweight mystery at best, begins by introducing calm, curious, detailed-obsessed young Ottoline, who, along with sidekick Mr. Monroe (think Gomez Addams’ hairy Cousin Itt)  investigates the disappearance of several pampered pooches, only to discover the dognapper isn’t exactly after canine company. In an oversize trenchcoat, Mr. Monroe makes a bizarre gumshoe, with fellow cast members, canines included, just as wacky. An entertaining alternative for chapter-book readers. Grades 2-4. --Stephanie Zvirin

More About the Author

author spotlight
Chris Riddell is the co-creator of the bestselling Edge Chronicles series, with Paul Stewart. He has illustrated many children's books including the award-winning Pirate Diary. He is also the political cartoonist for the Guardian and Observer newspapers.

Talking to Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell about the Edge Chronicles

Q. What was your inspiration for The Edge Chronicles?
Paul: The Edge Chronicles started off with the map. Chris drew it and gave it to me saying, 'here is the world, tell me what happens there.'
Chris: I drew a map that looked like the edge of a map because I've always been fascinated by the edges of maps - the place where the known world ends.
Paul: My main inspiration for the Deepwoods was perhaps the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, though other books-Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Gormenghast, Gulliver's Travels- also played their part.
Q: What was your favorite character(s) to create?
Chris: My favorite character is the spindlebug. It was easy for Paul to write that it was see-through, like glass, but a challenge for an illustrator to draw. The creatures live an immense amount of time-up to four centuries -which means that they witness a lot more history of the Edge than other characters.
Paul: My favorite characters are the banderbears. Chris drew them first as fierce, pyramid-like bear creatures. Because they looked so ferocious, I made their character more timid. We have enjoyed developing the creatures as the series has progressed, learning about their natural habits and habitat and creating a language all of their own.
Q: Where did you come up with the names for your characters? The various personalities and life stories?
Paul: Both of us hate the clichéd fantasy names and tried to make the names in the Edge world a little different. Woodtrolls have woody names, like Snatchwood, Gruffbark, Snetterbark. Slaughterers have 'meaty' names like Gristle, Sinew, Tendon and Brisket. The academics have Latin/Basque names with lots of ius's and x's. Cowlquape, who goes through lots of changes, has a name taken from the German for tadpole - Kaulquappe. While Twig, of course, is just a tiny bit of the forest.
As the series has progressed, with prequels and sequels, the life histories of the various characters have become more deeply described. So Twig's mother, Maris, is only mentioned in Beyond the Deepwoods. In book 4, the Curse of the Gloamglozer, we meet her as a girl. And in the book we have just completed, Book 7 - Freeglader - we learn all about what happened to her after she abandoned her baby in the Deepwoods. The continuity revealed as the story unfolds is deeply satisfying.
Q: What was your favorite book as a child?
Chris: Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown
Paul: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Q: Since you both work as a team from conception to finish, what is the creative process like? How exactly does the collaboration work?
Paul: The pictures and words take shape simultaneously, each affecting the development of the other. Sometimes characters and creatures start with a picture, sometimes with a textual description. In addition, the plot is worked on constantly by both of us and, when they are around, our children! Similarly, the text is passed back and forth, being rewritten continuously, until both of us are happy with it.
Q: What has been the most challenging part of writing the series?
Paul: The whole process is challenging. More importantly, though, it is also rewarding. Both of us have immense fun playing with the Edge world. Beyond the Deepwoods was the simplest book, an episodic rite of passage novel where we, as well as the main protagonist, began to explore this new world. As we have gone deeper into it, the world has become richer and richer, and the storylines similarly, more involved. We are fascinated by the way the world is still developing as we learn more and more about its history and explore all areas of the political and natural world in increasing depth.
Q: When did you first begin writing/drawing?
Chris: At five years old in the back pew of my father's church. My mother gave me paper and pens to keep me quiet during Dad's (very interesting) sermons.
Paul: From the moment I could write, I have been writing down stories. At seven, I was working on a series of stories about a snail called Oliver. At ten, I attempted to write a follow-up to The Phantom Tollbooth with ideas that took shape over the next 20 years and finally became a book entitled The Thought Domain.
Q: In Midnight Over Sanctaphrax, Twig deals with the loss of two father figures. How is this important for his development?
Paul: Twig has to grow up and assume responsibility for his father's crew and, when he learns of Tuntum's death, he realizes how he has grown and matured since he left the Woodtroll village. He hopes that Tuntum would be proud of him, and what he has achieved.
Q: What scene did you have the most fun creating?
Chris: Both of us enjoyed the wig-wig arena scene a lot. The whole Shryke slave market, with its platforms and walkways all hanging from the Deepwoods trees, was great fun to create as a home for the flightless Shrykes. The escape from it on Prowlgrinback was also great fun both to write and draw.
Paul: Midnight over Sanctaphrax was the third in the series, and the book where we were beginning to reap the rewards both of close collaboration and of getting to know the world more deeply. The Prowlgrins (which I had originally described as being like hyena/leopard-like creatures, but which Chris had drawn as a curious cross between a whale and a toad) looked to me as if they were brilliantly designed for leaping from branch to branch. Therefore the pictures in Book 1 directly influenced the plot in Book 3. Similarly, in book 1, I had wanted a pirate-like punishment similar to keelhauling, and had come up with sky-firing. In Midnight over Sanctaphrax, this throwaway idea becomes pivotal to the plot- but we won't give it away just in case you haven't read the book yet!
Q: The Edge Chronicles seems perfectly suited for film, with its fast-paced action, loveable creatures, and incredible comic-timing. Were you thinking along these lines during its inception?
Paul: We did not deliberately set out to produce fiction which could be turned into a film. That said, both of us work in a very visual way, so a lot of the plotting, characterization and scene development is quite cinematic. It would be a great thrill to see The Edge Chronicles realized on the big screen!

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 18 customer reviews
A great story, and beautiful illustrations.
Telaina Muir
My son read this book in one evening, he is waiting for the next one, "Ottoline goes to school".
Natalia
To my mind, Chris Riddell is the most talented children's book illustrator today, bar none.
N. Robinson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By L. K. Messner on June 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Ottoline and the Yellow Cat, by Chris Riddell of Edge Chronicles fame, is the kind of book you might imagine if Roald Dahl and Brian Selznick had teamed up on a graphic novel. Ottoline is a young girl whose parents travel the world and leave her home in the family townhouse in the care of a friendly, hairy creature-person named Mr. Monroe.

I loved the characters in this book. Ottoline's a little like Pippi Longstocking -- brave and funny and always up for an adventure. And Mr. Monroe.... well, he was so cute I want to adopt him and keep him as a lap dog. Ottoline and Mr. Monroe team up to solve the mystery of a string of neighborhood burglaries -- a plot that is brought to life by the abundant and amazing illustrations.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Twillow on April 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
When I looked up the reviews for my daughter's favorite book, I was surprised to see only a handful of reviews posted for this imaginative and delightful book. Unlike other reviewers, I don't see the comparisons with Pippi Longstocking or Eloise at all, with the exception that all of these girls have parents who are away from home or absent in their lives. Ottoline is, in fact, quite a refreshing heroine after the recent wave of brash and so-called "spunky" protagonists of girls' books. While Pippi Longstocking and Eloise are applauded for their attention-grabbing naughtiness and bravado (which I didn't care for), Ottoline is a more reserved and thoughtful heroine who likes jumping in rain puddles and maintaining her odd collections when she's not jotting down new ideas in her notebook. Ottoline carries out her adventure with the help of her friends and a "clever plan" in a mystery that is a little complex for those younger than 5, but perfect for the 5-10 age group. Even those too young to understand the mystery will still be eager to see the illustrations.

As to the reviewer who was unhappy about the reference to gas in the book, a dog is briefly mentioned for having "terrible gas" in his sleep. These are the exact words used by the author, so you can decide for yourself if this is too crude for your children, but it was rather well-received by our young audience. The story is humorous and fun to read (over and over as my daughter will attest) and the illustrations are perfection! Please don't overlook this book based on lack of reviews here or the shortage of marketing here in the states...we are buying a second copy because ours is getting so worn from re-reading and lending to friends!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Natalia on November 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Chris Riddell has humour and style. My son read this book in one evening, he is waiting for the next one, "Ottoline goes to school". I liked Riddell's work in 'Edge Chronicles', "Far Flung Adventures" and "Muddle Earth" (with Paul Stewart). "Ottoline" is for younger kids (7-8 years); both girls and boys will enjoy it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By wisthrop on June 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Ottoline and the Yellow Cat" by Chris Riddell is an extremely entertaining book that reads more like a comic book than a novel due to the authors wonderful illustrations. My 5-year-old son love reading this and laughed at the crazy antics of the characters. This book is pretty short, but there is no lack of material, again due to the wonderful illustrations by Mr Riddell.
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Format: Paperback
To my mind, Chris Riddell is the most talented children's book illustrator today, bar none. He is the current generation's John R. O'Neill -- just as O'Neill brought the fabulous Oz books (all but the first) to life with his lively, engaging and beautiful characterizations, Riddell draws his readers into every story with fantastic, profuse illustration.

Ottoline and the Yellow Cat is a fun, light-hearted story about a little girl who is brave, responsible, and full of clever plans. Little girls (and boys) everywhere will enjoy this delicious bridge between picture books and chapter books. Parents will enjoy reading this book with their children, too.

Highly, highly recommended!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Spencer on September 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book. Highly recommend it. I bought it for my grandson and it was a big hit. Wonderful book for children
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Leslie Dandelion on September 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My daughter enjoyed the book very much and requested more Ottoline books to read. The illustrations were fun for her as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By zweibak050862 on December 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
If you're looking for a book that is a little more than the usual syrupy flair then this is not for you. Get ready for an odd trip of talking cats, dogs and something hairy called a bog.

This is the story of a little girl named Ottoline who has a passion for solving problems with the help of her friend, a short stout man who is completely covered with hair, "the small Hairy Bog Person", otherwise known as Mr. Monroe from Norway, where it's always rain.

Ottoline by all accounts is an eccentric little girl who has a penchant for collections; whether it is her teapots, parent's postcards are her odd one shoe collection. Yes Ottoline always has something interesting to keep herself occupied.

To keep herself busy she's always on a never ending quest to solve the most unsolvable problems in her apartment building while taking care of Mr. Monroe. Ottoline finds comfort in her constant companion Mr. Monroe, who she'd known since a little child. Mr. Monroe helps Ottoline by
comforting her and who also help her focus her thoughts and solve the everyday issues that crosses her path.

Eventually you do get to find out what the book is about, a burglary caper and its thief's, a cast of crooks that steal but with a twist. On her mission to find the burglar Ottoline is at her best. With the help of Mr. Monroe he becomes her Charley to her Chan.

There are many characters found in this book that are interesting. Not only will you get to know Mr. Monroe but a hungry mouse named Robert and a bear that has a compulsion for stealing.

This is a sophisticated story for today's kid who will enjoy the whimsical illustrations right down to the pretty little page turners.
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