I am a sucker for a fantasy-themed children’s book, so when I found Oothar the Blue by Brandon Reese on Edelweiss, I knew I needed to review it. I received a DRC of this book for a fair and unbiased review. The title will be released next Tuesday.
Oothar the Barbarian just doesn’t feel like doing the things he normally loved to do, like fighting dragons, ogres, or uberwraiths. He just wants to lie in bed. He even sought help from the Fettle Wizard, but nothing seemed to do the trick. Finally, he loses control and begins smashing, chopping, and breaking things. A minotaur interrupts him, and just when Oothar is about to attack, the minotaur thanks him for doing such great landscaping work around his home. When the minotaur paid him for the work and vowed to tell others, Oothar was baffled yet happy. In the end, he works as a landscaper and has so much work to do that he hires all the monsters he used to fight.
This book is listed as geared toward 4 to 8-year-olds. There were not a lot of words on each page, and for being a shorter book, I think that would leave a child wanting more. I really enjoyed the way Reese would weave fantastical elements into such simple sentences. One of my favorites was probably this page.
Oothar felt something inside.
Something not at all like the burrowing spiny gut worms from the bog of discontent.
Lines like those made me chuckle, but some were a little more subtle. There were also some different and more obscure words that could throw off a beginner reader.
The author was also the illustrator, and I really loved that he included a map at the beginning and end. That’s the best part of fantasy! What was great about it was the fact that after all the monsters worked together, the map changed. There were now things like a market or a garden, even if the names were still supposed to be scary.
The art style was a little mediocre, and Oothar himself looked a little strange to me. He had big muscles, but his belly was paunchy. His legs were also tiny for his size. It made for a silly look, and not really appealing. I did enjoy the minotaur in his purple robe sipping tea. He was so civilized!
We don’t know why Oothar is sad, just that it’s bad enough that he wants to “sleep the day away.” He eventually becomes frustrated and angry, lashing out with violence. It certainly made me think that poor Oothar was depressed, and I really thought the story was going in a different direction. However, it just ended up that Oothar was tired of his old job but didn’t know it. Once he found a new purpose, he was happy and fulfilled. It’s an interesting premise, but it might not be something kids as young as four, or even eight would really get. And while I think it’s wonderful to show that it’s okay to be sad, I am not sure I like showing them they could react with a tantrum and get rewarded.
It’s a fun idea: a barbarian who doesn’t enjoy being a barbarian anymore, but I don’t think the pages were used wisely to make it work the way it could. It would have been better with a little more story, especially since 4 to 8 year-olds are more inclined to be reading something a little longer. It has some redeeming lines, but not enough to make me fully enjoy it. My son (5) listened while we read, but he didn’t seem into it either.
4 out of 10
Author, Illustrator: Brandon Reese
Release Date: May 15, 2018
Format Read: Kindle
Category(s): Juvenile Fiction, Fantasy & Magic
Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Listing Price: $16.99 (Hardcover)