Ogres Don't Dance (Ogden the Ogre) by Kirsty McKay

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Ogres Don't Dance (Ogden the Ogre) by Kirsty McKay

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A brilliant amalgam of Strictly Come Dancing and Frankenstein makes for a real jolly read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 144 Date: May 2014
Publisher: Andersen Press
ISBN: 9781849397155

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Meet Ogden the Ogre. Getting lost in the forest one night after a raid on the village for a bit of human-shaped supper he finds a barn full of colourfully-dressed people having a riotous time, dancing away happily. Obviously Oscar wants to join in, but it's only when he chances on meeting Willow, an incredibly independent nine year old girl, that he gets the opportunity to learn how to dance. But will he stick to the promise he has to give her in return, that of never eating another human, or will he leave her a weeping Willow?

This snappy adventure of Og and Will and their unusual friendship and even more odd-seeming hobby together is a sheer delight. From the impactful opening sentences to the charming narrative voice, which I could imagine a parent reading aloud even to a child old enough to manage it him or herself, this succeeds in hitting all its intended spots. I did find a couple of duff beats to begin with – chapter breaks in the wrong places, and not where I thought there could be one, but the beat is soon easily met and the swing is soon easily maintained, and the whole short book becomes just a joyful little adventure.

Plus of course, it has the advantage of being better than it sounds. If you reduce it to bare bones it's a simple tale of wish-fulfilment, but it meets it through a bizarre collaboration of talent-show competition and Frankenstein rip-off. McKay doesn't belabour either side of the plot, however, and even though it is patently obvious what is happening with the more mysterious events of late on, she successfully puts the two elements together into an unlikely partnership.

The illustrations are brief and succinct in telling us what we need to know (successfully ironing out any problems with the scale difference you'd imagine between the couple), the design adds to the flavour of the book, and the language, dialogue and low word count are just enough to make this a fine pick for the under-eights. There are weird ogre picnics, burps and funny smells, and odd fonts too to add to the appeal. There's also a great visual sense, and before long I wasn't just thinking of this as being something great to voice aloud to an audience of one. I was imagining the whole thing done perfectly successfully, appealingly and happily as an inventive, family stage show. But if you think that only great, successful books could ever deserve being adapted for the theatre, then that's my point. This was great, and I certainly hope it is successful. Sod the 'ten from Len' malarkey, I'm still giving it a few sparkly razzle-dazzle stars. It's charming.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo and K G Campbell has floated our boat recently, for an audience perhaps just a few months older.

Buy Ogres Don't Dance (Ogden the Ogre) by Kirsty McKay at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Ogres Don't Dance (Ogden the Ogre) by Kirsty McKay at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Ogres Don't Dance (Ogden the Ogre) by Kirsty McKay at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Ogres Don't Dance (Ogden the Ogre) by Kirsty McKay at Amazon.com.


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