Title: A Postcard to Ollis
Written by: Ingunn Thon
Illustrated by: Nora Brech
Translated by: Sian Mackie
Published by: Wacky Bee
A story of friendship and family loyalties, written in third person and present tense. Ingunn Thon develops full and engaging characters with very different personalities. Ten-year old Ollis is inquisitive, inventive and determined. Her best friend and neighbour, Gro, is cheeky, quick-witted and impulsive. Ollis is named after five women who played important roles in Norwegian history. She likes to invent things, which often do not go to plan. Her mum has a new baby and announces her plans to get married to the baby’s father, who has recently moved in. Ollis is jealous and disappointed as she can not see her own father, especially when she discovers her name is not on the invitations.
Ollis’ and Gro, go on a bike ride and stumble upon a yellow letterbox mounted on a crooked post. They look inside and its empty. They hear a whumph-thunk-clang and in true Lake House style, a postcard addressed to Ollis appears in the letterbox. The friends return everyday to see if there are any more postcards. It is not until they meet Borgny, that Ollis finally discovers a hundred and one postcards addressed to her with drawings of places all around the world. She works out these postcards have been sent for ten years. Ollis believes they are from her father and embarks on a quest to find him.
This chapter book won the Nynorsk Prize 2017 for Excellent Prose and was shortlisted for the Italian Premio Strega 2018 literary prize, which is the equivalent of the Carnegie Medal.
A Postcard to Ottis is full of witty banter and distinct, diverse characters that capture your heart. I loved the wacky Borgny and was pleasantly shocked at Ollis’ father’s reaction to her. However, I found the present tense rather difficult to read and in places it jolted me out of the story. I also felt there was too much unnecessary description that was not relevant to the plot. The characters make you laugh, cry and scream with frustration. Full of twists and surprises this book really makes you think about what ‘family’ is and the many different types of family relationships.