From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 3-A map of the United States appears on the front endpapers of this book, and the title page shows an African-American girl sitting at a desk, writing a letter as she smiles widely. Tameka has invited her Uncle Ray, who lives in South Carolina, to visit her in California. Unable to get away, he builds a life-sized wooden man and sends it in his place. A note in Oliver's pouch asks people to help him get to his destination and to send Ray a note if they do. Their letters and postcards form the basis of this story as Oliver travels in a truck with a Brahman bull, a station wagon, and a moving van. The boldly colored, textured illustrations were made with oils over an acrylic under-painting on boards, and the unframed panoramic spreads portray the countryside and the assorted colorful characters who assist Oliver at various legs of his cross-country trek. Uncluttered paintings move viewers' eyes across the pages. Small, interesting details abound, and children will be pleased with the satisfying conclusion. A map at the back shows Oliver's route. A fresh, unusual tale.Kathleen Simonetta, Indian Trails Public Library District, Wheeling, IL
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
K-Gr. 3. Tameka invites Uncle Ray, who lives in South Carolina, to visit her in California. Uncle Ray writes back that he can't come, but he is sending a friend, Oliver K. Woodman, a life-size, hinged wooden man that Uncle Ray has carved. Ray puts Oliver by the road with a note asking travelers who pick him up to send postcards to Ray along the way. People are happy to oblige; postcards come from Arkansas, New Mexico, and Utah, revealing a diverse array of travelers and responses to Oliver. Oliver finally arrives, and the journey comes full circle when Tameka's family and Oliver travel (this time by air) to visit Ray. The quirky story, though whimsical and imaginative, is filled with ambiguities: Oliver is sometimes treated as an inanimate object (he's tossed in a cactus field) and sometimes as a person (he sits with families for meals), which makes for some oddly disconcerting moments, and the target audience seems unclear. It's Cepeda's paintings that save the day. Vibrant, textured, rainbow-hued, with a mostly cheerful multicultured cast, they are the highlight of the book. For large collections. Shelle RosenfeldCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved