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My son finished reading Ottoline Goes to School by Chris Riddell last week. It’s the sequel to Ottoline and the Yellow Cat which he loved and sped through in a couple of days. He felt much the same about this one.


In this book, Ottoline meets a girl called Cecily in the park near her home. Cecily is a difficult child, but Ottoline, who doesn’t really have any friends of her own age, is drawn to her, and when Cecily announces she is off to boarding school, Ottoline and Mr. Munroe, her hairy friend rescued from the bogs of Norway by her parents, go too.

Ottoline and Cecily go to the Alice B. Smith School for the Differently Gifted, and meet the Sultana of Pahang, the son of the invisible man and all sorts of other strange children, all of whom already know what their great gift in life is.  Ottoline is desperate to find out what her gift is, and has a go at everything on the Alice B. Smith curriculum as the book progresses, including plate spinning and aerial flower arranging.

In the meantime, there are strange and ghostly goings on at the school and Ottoline and Mr. Munroe attempt to unravel the mystery.

This has all the charm of the original book, and the humour. There are lots of nice touches to the illustrations including all the notation by Riddell, and a ghost hunt that your child can rediscover the book with after reading it.

Perfect for children aged 7-12. It would be great for transitional readers, but work equally well for fans of Riddell and authors like Lauren Child. I’ve had a good success rate with children who have finished all Lauren Child’s Clarice Bean and Ruby Redfort novels, getting them to try Ottoline.