It’s time for an adventure! Don’t worry, if you don’t have bog goggles, a pair is with each copy of Ottoline at Sea, the third book in Chris Riddell’s series for young readers. The Ottoline books are near and dear to my heart. If you aren’t familiar, I’d like you to meet Ottoline and her companion Mr. Monroe (he’s a bog person from Norway):
Ottoline is an intelligent, quirky girl who loves making clever plans and solving problems. Her parents are world travelers and professional collectors, who make sure their daughter is well cared for while they are away from home. One day Ottoline will be old enough to join them.
This book departs from the others, favoring an adventure-driven plot over one of mystery, as Ottoline is given a pass to travel over the school holidays as Roving Amateur Explorer. When Mr. Munroe departs unexpectedly for Norway in search of an elusive troll, Ottoline strikes out to find him. Accompanied by the bear vacationing in her apartment building’s laundry room, the two friends set out to find Ottoline’s hairy companion, traveling by submarine, plane, and mountain goat to do so–not to mention putting Ottoline’s skills as a certified Mistress of Disguise to good use.
I adore Riddell’s illustrations and Ottoline at Sea is rife with them, so much so it verges on a graphic novel but retains enough free-standing prose to keep it in the illustrated novel category. The pictures are filled with details, so get out your bog goggles and look closely. Make sure you have a good lamp while you read because the goggles won’t work without one.
This book was a delight, as they all are, though I prefer when there is a mystery to solve. I regret to inform anyone interested in purchasing Ottoline at Sea that it will have to be done by way of Britain. This one was never released in the United States. I suspect it was the bog goggles that got in the way: the U.K. editions of the first two come with extras that were eliminated from their U.S. counterparts and the bog goggles are not expendable. Even so, this is a great series for 6-9 year-olds, particularly fans of Ivy & Bean, and well worth tracking down.