Ordinary Oscar by Laura Adkins

Illustrated by Sam Hearn

Ordinary Oscar is a fun picture book about a young snail with delusions of grandeur.  Oscar wants to be a celebrity snail. His parents and siblings don’t understand why he dreams of stardom, being perfectly contented to mooch about the garden, eating leaves.

Oscar appeals to the Wise Old Snail, who advises him to consult his Fairy Godsnail.  The Fairy Godsnail grants him three wishes, which Oscar uses to make himself famous with disastrous results.  Inevitably Oscar ends up using his remaining wishes to undo the things he thought he wanted, and finds a new appreciation of his ordinary life at home with his family.

The story ends with Oscar finding true fame when he saves his mother from a terrible soil slide in the garden and gets into the newspapers for becoming a hero.

This story is written with a wonderful sense of fun and humour. The elements of the traditional fairy story with the fairy godmother and the three wishes are given a fantastic twist.  The story would make an excellent addition to any project on fairy or folk tales.

The illustrations are bright, bold and eye catching with a great use of colour and plenty of sparkle.  The pictures have lots of humorous little details that make it very fun to read one on one with a child or in a small group, giving them the opportunity to spot the  funny elements of the pictures.

The book is also interesting for its comment on celebrity.  Oscar is in danger when he falls for fame for its own sake, but a hero when he finds fame for doing something truly noteworthy.  In an age where we are all mesmerised by the idea of celebrity this would make an interesting story to use as an introduction to talking about what fame means and what it can do to a person.

The text is easy to read although less confident readers may struggle with some of the more sophisticated words, and the story is quite long for a novice reader. It would make a good story to read aloud to a group of children, and a great story for more confident readers to read alone.

This is a great book for both boys and girls. It is funny and adventurous enough for boys and has warmth and humour that would work well for girls too.

I recommend it as a read aloud story for four to eight year olds.