Ottoline and the Purple Fox is the fourth book in the Ottoline series by Chris Riddell and long awaited it has been. I have loved Ottoline since the very first book in the series, Ottoline and the Yellow Cat, and loved her so much I never waited for paperbacks. I was very sad when after the third book, Ottoline at Sea, it looked like Chris Riddell had retired her in favour of pastures new.
With the glorious Goth Girl series, I felt he had redeemed himself, and with all the awards heaped upon Goth Girl, I wonder if his publisher allowed him to resurrect Ottoline. However it happened, I was utterly delighted to receive Ottoline and the Purple Fox last year and I saved it until I knew I would be able to completely savour it. Certain books are reserved for deep enjoyment in the manner of break glass with hammer in an emergency. This is such a book.
I was poorly over the last few days, and after having waded through two dreary Jack London books out of a weird and entirely misplaced sense of duty, I knew it was time to enjoy Ottoline and enjoy her I did. Every, single page was a joy to read.
Ottoline is a young girl who lives alone with a bog creature from Norway called Mr. Monroe, who resembles Cousin It from The Addams Family. Her parents are explorers who write to her regularly and send home finds for the collections that Ottoline curates. Ottoline is not lonely as she has many friends and acquaintances and an entire raft of employees who come in to help her. In her previous books, she solved mysteries. In this book, rather more whimsical things happen.
This book shows Ottoline finding a new friend and setting up a story line I hope means there will be more books for. It also sees her exploring the strange city she lives in, in the company of a dapper fox as he takes her on an urban safari. Ottoline and Mr. Monroe also try their hand at matchmaking with very romantic results.
The Ottoline books are funny, charming, and glorious to read. The books are full of little jokes and asides and things to discover and savour. The illustrations are gorgeous, the books are beautiful things in themselves and there is, as ever, a little surprise tucked into the back of the book for the reader. These are perennially popular with all readers I tried them with, boys and girls, and they are fantastic for transitional readers because the text is so simple and the illustrations so beguiling.