Imagine That: A Hoot & Olive Story (Jonathan D. Voss)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Imagine That: A Hoot & Olive Story by Jonathan D. Voss, a tale of a rainy day in need of some inspiration.

Little girl Olive and her stuffed owl Hoot are best of friends. Olive has a big heart and big imagination; Hoot has a matching heart, but his imagination, well… When Olive proposes a slew of imaginary adventures during a rainy indoor day, Hoot just cannot seem to get his imagination working. Has his imagination been lost or stolen? Is his “imaginator” broken? Olive makes it her mission to help her friend find the joy of imagination within him – but can they find it if Hoot can’t imagine where to look?

This is the second Hoot & Olive book, and it shares that same dreamy, slightly detached tone that it’s prequel did; bringing to mind Winnie The Pooh’s narrative style, Olive’s interactions with Hoot are matter-of-fact and adorably authoritative with just hints of melancholy and sentimentality. It’s a type of tone that works especially well here: both Hoot’s and Olive’s concern for his faulty imagination and their practical theories and solutions in trying to recover it are endearing for readers of all ages. And Hoot does recover his imagination, once Olive remembers that imagination comes from the heart; it’s a sweet but slightly problematic resolution, especially for kids with ASD who have trouble interpreting the world in any way other than literally, and could imply that they simply lack heart. The best feature by far are the rich and gorgeous illustrations, dynamic in scale and tone, and with an incredible command of light and shadow (a wonderful touch is an imaginary giant who bears more than a passing resemblance to Dahl’s BFG). The length is fine and JJ liked it; overall a sweet friendship tale with a few stumbles, but a great deal of genuine heart. Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Brave Enough For Two (Jonathan D. Voss)

Help, friends! Our book today is Brave Enough For Two by Jonathan D. Voss, a tale of friendship between a girl and her stuffed owl.

Olive and Hoot have been best of friends forever, even if their interests occasionally differ. For instance, Olive prefers the adventures found in books, while Hoot yearns for something more. One day, Hoot encourages her to join him on an adventure and, while she has some safety concerns, Olive agrees. First they fly high in the air in a balloon-powered basket, then a boat trip down a fast-moving current, both making Olive nervous. Each time, Hoot guarantees their safety and promises that, as long as they are together, they will be okay. But as the day winds to an end, the pair realize they are lost and far from home, and Hoot has torn a hole and lost some stuffing. Suddenly, Hoot doesn’t feel so brave. Seeing her friend’s fear, Olive realizes that courage isn’t just being fearless…

This is a soft and gentle friendship story with a nice lesson in courage. While I feel like Hoot could have been more considerate of Olive’s fears and concerns, I did like the lesson that bravery and recklessness are not the same thing – Hoot is quite bold, and good to encourage his friend to be brave as well, but he is also quite foolhardy. Olive, however, finds her bravery when others need her, showing a level head and a comforting presence when crisis strikes. It’s a subtle way of showing little ones the different types of bravery, and I liked it. The art is simply gorgeous, weaving charming windswept characters into open-skied rural landscapes that evoke a nostalgic sense of childhood wanderings. The length is fine, and JJ enjoyed Olive and her little owl friend. A quiet tale of courage and friendship, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)