Oliver Strange and the journey to the swamps
Genre: Adventure Stories
Author(s): Hofmeyr, Dianne
Publisher(s): Tafelberg Publishers Ltd
Oliver is a boy from Tooting, England, whose father (a frog specialist) has gone missing in Botswana. Lured away by the evil-minded Alecto, who pretends to be his aunt, Oliver makes friends with Zinzi, a girl whose delight is caring for wild animals. She has with her a pet bushbaby and a python. The two of them are blindfolded, drugged and taken off into the Okovango Swamps by Alecto and her sidekick Molotse. They have already captured Oliver’s father in their search for frogs which are destined to be frozen, exported and eaten as sushi. Next on their list are more rare poison frogs. It is up to Oliver and Zinzi to rescue his father and stop Alecto and Molotse's terrible scheme.
By: Nikki McDiarmid
Posted on: May 29, 2017
Oliver Strange is the book that defines the right of passage from young readers to young adult books.Oliver is a boy unfamiliar with the realities of Africa, who must travel from London to Bulawayo, to the Victoria Falls, arriving eventually in Kasane. It is here in Botswana, that Oliver’s father has disappeared.In true local style, with relationships forged on the long journeys across the continent, Oliver meets the streetwise Zinzi. Knowledgeable in conservation, Zinzi’s school is part of Wild Care and Oliver is soon introduced to the bush-baby and rescued python that accompany her. Zinzi speaks nine languages and knows every tree in Botswana. Bright and as cute as a button, Oliver’s new friend quickly has readers falling in love with her kind heart and quick wit.Before they know it, the two children are faced with danger. The criminals that lurk in the shadows cannot hide forever and Oliver notices a strange man who seems to be following them. Whispered conversations of a poisonous frog, with references to his herpetologist father, begin to lift the hairs on the back of his necku2026As an adult I am yet to get over the thrill in reading books that contain local content| hearing dialects that are familiar and nostalgic and recognising imagery so close to home. Oliver Strange is a feast for the mind, every sense is delighted by the colours of Africa, its people and its familiar aromas.Dianne Hofmeyr’s writing is clear and precise, making for easy reading and imagery that will have children absolutely hooked.“Light bounced and dazzled and skittered.”Hofmeyr’s descriptive phrases ensure that Oliver Strange both educates readers as well as transports them.As the tale unfolds, young readers are taught about animal compassion, while at the same time experiencing the ‘mission impossible’ danger linked so intrinsically to the life of conservationists. Science and technology aspects of the story are juxtaposed against the cultural beliefs of poachers and ‘muti-dealers’, defining South Africa’s diverse cultural ways.Not only educational, but terribly exciting too, Hofmeyr’s cliff-hangers are SO exciting that even I battled to close the book at the end of every chapter. On the edge of my seat and holding my breath, I found each ending wonderfully, and often amusingly, resolved in the pages that followed.Reading Oliver Strange and the Journey to the Swamp was pure delight and is one journey guaranteed to keep kids enthralled. I certainly was!