Oliver Strange and the ghosts of Madagascar
Genre: General Fiction
Author(s): Hofmeyr, Dianne
Publisher(s): Tafelberg Publishers Ltd
A second book in the series following Oliver Strange’s journeys into the most wild and intriguing places on earth! This time he travels to Madagascar with Zinzi (remember her from Oliver Strange and the Journey to the Swamps?) and their respective parents: Oliver’s father is researching a rare frog found only in the forests of Madagascar: the golden mantella. And Zinzi’s mom is after a lemur: the indri. Oliver and Zinzi discover Madagascar has a history of piracy. Is there something darker and more sinister than frogs or lemurs hidden in the island’s forests and coves? Who is the girl hiding in the forest and who are the men in the pirogues? What is their cargo? The author is highly experienced and knows how to keep a young reader’s attention. As in Oliver Strange and the Journey to the Swamps, illustrative material in the form of maps, notes and hand-drawn illustrations provide a journal-like feel to the text. These were once again supplied by Port Elizabeth-based artist Rob Foote.
By: Nikki McDiarmid
Posted on: May 29, 2017
Oliver Strange and the Ghosts of Madagascar is an utterly compelling and thrilling story and a fabulous follow on to Oliver Strange and the Journey to the Swamps. With the first book as a delicious appetizer, the second in the series is a true feast for young readers.
Woken by terrible sounds outside in the night, Oliver finds himself in a fantasy world of hammock beds, tree-houses, swinging walkways, mist and dense forest. Zinzi, who readers have come to really love, is immediately prominent as she guides Oliver out into the wilderness of Madagascar.
Together with their parents Oliver and Zinzi are helping the WWF to find animals on the CR Red List| the famous herpetologist father this time around searching for the highly venomous Golden Mantella frog, as Zinzi’s Mum studies the lemurs.
While beautiful, Madagascar is a wild place with dangerous people and a terrible history of slavery. In other words, it is the perfect setting for the two young detectives. From Ylang Ylang plantations to the centre of the forest with its ancient Rosewood trees, Oliver and Zinzi uncover illegal trading, pirates and deforestation happening on a grand level.
Slightly sad that the setting had moved away from Africa, I was soon swept along in the mystery of Madagascar, Dianne Hofmeyr leading me into an adventure filled with intrigue and suspense. In fact, so exciting is this tale that I gasped loudly more than a few times, much to my son’s amusement.
Again, the power of description in Hofmeyr’s writing must be mentioned, where scenes are so vivid and so powerful that readers forget where they sit quietly to read, and instead exist completely within the new world woven around them. The colours are scintillating and the visions mouthwateringly real, with words that will sweep youngsters beyond language and paper.
Rob Foote’s hand-drawn illustrations are gently understated and neutral, but make such an impression on young readers. His childlike writing and drawings so real and believable, allowing children to connect on every level.
This is a story that is wonderfully educational without being educational and I believe this is a tale that will appeal to children all around the world.
Having never experienced Madagascar myself, I cannot imagine any greater adventure for children to go on – the maps, exotic names and exotic animals make this book a seriously exciting read.