cover image Odds on Oliver

Odds on Oliver

Constance C. Greene. Viking Children's Books, $12.99 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-670-84549-1

To her impressive gallery of inimitable characters, Greene adds Oliver: desperate to be a hero, but never quite making the grade. Something always seems to go awry and Oliver causes more harm than good; as with many aspiring gallants, however, Oliver triumphs when he least expects it. With deadpan humor and a snappy pace, this early chapter book sees its hero variously ``Up a Tree,'' ``Skunked'' and doused in a ``Tomato Juice Bath.'' Readers will easily identify with Oliver in his predicaments, sympathizing with him in defeat and cheering his success. Kid-appealing descriptions and dialogue abound, as when Oliver, grabbed as hostage in an attempted grocery store hold-up, mulls a possible solution: ``It is a well-known fact that people don't like to hang on to a person who is throwing up.'' Schindler's drawings lend the proceedings an appropriately zany slant--his portrayals of Ms. Mabel, doyenne of Carrot Hill Nursery School, and U. Crumm, the town clerk who doubles as ``a class-A eater,'' are particular standouts. Ages 7-10. (Mar.)