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The Odious Ogre Hardcover – September 1, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After a nearly 50-year wait, Juster's reunion with his Phantom Tollbooth collaborator Feiffer is squarely in keeping with their earlier fairy tale drollery. Feiffer's ogre, scrawled in scribbly brown outline, snores on his back in a forest of Lilliputian trees in one spread, then strides off in search of a snack in the next. (Feiffer often draws him from the boots up, the better to convey his massive size.) The ogre's victims usually cower hopelessly before him, but this time, the specimen he encounters--a slim, wide-eyed young woman in a long blue dress--undoes him with kindness. Oh, you're not really so terrible, she says sweetly. I'll bet if you brushed your teeth, combed your hair, found some new clothes, and totally changed your attitude you'd be quite nice. The ogre's mighty tantrum shakes the forest, but she remains calm. Would you consider doing that for the orphans' picnic next week? I know the children would love it. The ogre's speedy exit--he drops dead--is a bit of a throwaway, but Juster's narrative insouciance and Feiffer's pen and brush haven't lost their magic. All ages.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2–There is nothing as satisfying as a job well done, and this ogre is beyond satisfied. In fact, he doesn't have to do anything anymore to scare the villagers. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, however, he goes about his business of snacking on them whenever the mood strikes him. Until one day, that is, when he comes upon a beautiful girl in the forest, and she is not afraid of him in the slightest. She sees beyond his odor and hideous face and assumes he is a good person at heart. She offers him tea and muffins and extends every kindness that she can think of. Thrown off guard, the ogre tries every trick he knows to frighten her but nothing will rattle this optimistic young girl. The befuddled and frustrated ogre tromps off through the forest and, well, the odious ogre is no more. Juster's language and imagery are playful throughout. For example, he describes the villagers' unsuccessful attempt at hiding from the ogre by noting that they “stuffed their ears with stale cake.” What child won't chuckle at that image? Later, the ogre complains that the girl is not “the docile dumpling he expected.” The ogre is correct; she is no docile dumpling. Feiffer's loose, colorful sketches are as cartoony as this over-the-top story demands. The text is a bit long for storyhour but the clever repartee and fun illustrations make up for that in spades.Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 880L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Michael di Capua Books; First Edition edition (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545162025
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545162029
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 9.5 x 12.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #319,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Norton Juster is an architect and planner, professor emeritus of design at Hampshire College, and the author of a number of highly acclaimed children's books, including The Dot and the Line, which was made into an Academy Award-winning animated film. He has collaborated with Sheldon Harnick on the libretto for an opera based on The Phantom Tollbooth. The musical adaptation, with a score by Arnold Black, premiered in 1995 and will soon be performed in schools and theaters nationwide. An amateur cook and professional eater, Mr. Juster lives with his wife in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There is a certain poignancy to reading "The Odious Ogre." Norton Juster, the writer, and Jules Feiffer, the illustrator, jointly created "The Phantom Tollbooth" five decades ago, and in doing so, created one of the most perfect children's books in history. Juster's copy and Feiffer's illustrations fit seamlessly together--so seamlessly that you'd think the two men shared the same brain. Words and pictures alike shared a wry, slightly ironic yet simultaneously very earnest sensibility and complemented each other perfectly. Among children's book geniuses, only Dr. Seuss was able to marry words and pictures as effectively. Their work combined to form what is truly a work of wonder--a very New York-Jewish magical allegory, the unmistakable subtext of which is, "Learning stuff is cool," without even a hint of preachiness, self-righteousness, or sanctimoniousness. Kids can see right through that and instinctively despise it, but no one in his or her right mind has ever despised "The Phantom Tollbooth."

The poignancy of reading "The Odious Ogre" comes in when you wonder why it took these two guys fifty years to do another book. Now, at (what is hopefully not) the twilight of their lives, I suppose they figured, "Well, we did one classic. Maybe we'd better knock out another one before it's too late." I'm glad they did, but I wish they'd done a lot more together.

"The Odious Ogre" is lush where "The Phantom Tollbooth" is spare. Juster's language is deliriously self-indulgent ("I am invulnerable, impregnable, insuperable, indefatigable, insurmountable!" the ogre bellows at one point), perhaps a little too much so for younger readers (but if read aloud with the right gusto, they won't notice it).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read this book to three grandchildren, ages 3,4&5. They all just love the story and just literally eat up the wonderful vocabulary. We are babysitting this week for grandchildren ages 3 & 5 and after three nights of the story they already have several lines memorized and can't hardly wait to say them out-loud along with Grandma. They are literally clamoring for the Odious Ogre reading to begin. If you love reading to your kids and relish stories with dialogue lines that you can "act out" for your little listeners, believe me, this is one humdinger of a story with marvelous illustrations that are fun for the young and "young at heart".
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Format: Hardcover
How can a book with such amazing illustrations be so TEDIOUS?

The size and quality of the art in this book deserve five stars, for sure. It looks like ink and watercolor, and the illustrations are memorable and full of motion.

But the story? An ogre goes about terrorizing the countryside until he finds a maiden out in the forest, someone who doesn't know enough to be frightened of him; instead she uses good manners and appreciation on the ogre, to his utter bewilderment. Then the rest of the book (12 pages) is her offering the ogre refreshments and appreciation, and the ogre throwing a temper tantrum because she is not afraid. Slightly funny... but really, my kids need no help in how to behave badly. In the end, the ogre drops dead and the villagers rejoice. Big deal.

William Steig's "Shrek" is more entertaining, by far.
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I used it with my Gifted and Talented L/A class as a read aloud (each taking a page or two). I am using it to demo types of books. They found the author's use of words just as amusing as in Phantom Tollbooth.
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Format: Hardcover
An odious ogre wreaks havoc through towns and villages, until he wanders off to a cottage deep in the woods. He expects to scare and eat the young girl in the cottage garden. Yet, the ogre becomes overwhelmed by the girl's kindness and generosity, and finally collapses to his death. Reminding readers of the overwhelming power of kindness, the young girl and the odious ogre present a good lesson for all children, especially those ages 5-8.
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Format: Hardcover
An Ogre munched regularly on the people of a village, and the terrified residents did not think they could do anything to stop him. One day, the Ogre comes across a small cottage, and he veers over to see what tasty treat might await him. He meets up with a young girl working in the garden, and does his best to scare her but she just looks up at him and says, "Oh, pardon me, I didn't realize anyone was there. I'll be right with you." The surprised Ogre mumbles, "What's going on!" The girl invites him to "sit down and have a cup of tea" with her. Now the Ogre feels terrible and he asks the young girl why she is not scared of him. "Oh, you're not really so terrible," she says, "Overbearing perhaps, arrogant for sure somewhat self-important, a little too mean and violent I'm afraid, and a bit messy". The girl offers to help him tidy up and the poor Ogre becomes totally discombobulated because she is nice to him which the Ogre complains is "bad for business". In the end, the Ogre expires from kindness, and the "townspeople...arrived to celebrate and bury him. The humor of this original fantasy is cleverly detailed in the deliciously funny illustrations. The cover is an absolute draw as it shows a hapless young man dangling from the Ogre's hand. This is a picture book for children, ages 5 and up and can be shared in a group setting.
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