Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week I wrote a review on Georgia Graham‘s The Lime Green Secret, a delightful tale on the lure of a fancy dress. Thanks Sylvia at Tundra Books (@TundraBooks) for the copy to review. This week a visit with my family has me thinking about my childhood and one of my favourite books.
It may not be a recent book (though I believe it was re-released again in 2001), but that doesn’t make it any less of a classic. I’m talking about Pierre Burton‘s children’s book The Secret World of Og originally published by McClelland & Stewart Ltd.
The day for Penny, Pamela, Patsy, Peter and Paul (referred to as the Polywog) is pretty typical until the Polywog disappears through a secret door in the floor of their Playhouse. The remaining siblings gather their courage and decide to venture through the dark hole under the secret door to rescue their little brother. Now under the playhouse, down the stairs and along an underground river, the kids discover a colourful city of mushroom houses inhabited by little green creatures. The problem? These new creatures have a language based solely on the word Og.
Not unlike the world above ground, the children soon discover the land of Og is very similar. There are families and stores. The people of Og work and shop (though some of the items in the stores look a lot like some of the items that the kids thought they lost above ground). There’s even a chief that everyone in the village looks up to for guidance. It’s not long before the four remaining children become separated in the strange land.
The children eventually make it back to their world above ground, but not before making both friends and enemies, hiding their identity with disguises and green body paint, narrowly avoiding being hung and saving the villagers from the dreaded Snake People.
Not a fairy tale for young readers
I received this book from my parents when I was an early teen. I loved the story then and I love it now. Pierre Berton’s world is written so real you can see it in your mind. This is especially true since there are only a handful of sketches throughout the story. The dark creatures and scenes, like a butcher almost cutting up the family cat and Peter narrowly escaping from being hung, keep the story from getting to fantasy-fairy and that much more enjoyable for me . I think it’s also scenes like these that make it more appropriate for older kids. Even one of the earlier scenes of Og’s hand reaching out of the secret door in the Playhouse floor to grab something scared my kids (they were three and five at the time). Sometimes my eagerness to share material I enjoy over-shadows my judgement. However, now that my oldest daughter is seven she has expressed an interest in reading the book herself.
If you would like to add The Secret World of Og to your own library, I believe you can buy the latest version (published by Doubleday Canada, part of Random House Canada @randomhouseca) from Amazon.ca or else you might want to check out your local library.
You can also find other great books to share with your family by reading some of the previous Write a Review Wednesday posts.
What is your family enjoying this week?