The Emperor's Ostrich

288p. Roaring Brook. Jun. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781596439580.
Gr 4–7—This whimsical, rambling adventure also serves as a coming-of-age tale. First, readers meet the Emperor, who though technically an adult has been pampered his whole life and has a lot of growing up to do. Next up is Begonia, a farm girl who's been burdened with responsibilities from a young age but still needs to learn about herself. Both are jolted out of their regular lives: Begonia when she is sent off in pursuit of her family's lost cow, the Emperor when a demon scares him out of his bedroom in the dead of night and he flees by ostrich. Once on the road they meet an eclectic band of companions, including each other. Guided by Grandfather and Grandmother Spirit, they must step up to save the kingdom from the evil Chancellor, who has taken over in the Emperor's absence. This novel is well written and well executed, with Berry's clear prose holding together a complicated plot and increasingly eccentric cast of characters.
VERDICT Give to kids who enjoy a clever story and don't mind a strong dose of silliness, or to anyone who loves the idea of a cow who becomes besotted with an ostrich.

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