Ottoline and the Purple Fox: 11/16/16
Chris Riddell is one of my favorite author-illustrators. Here in the United States he's most known as the illustrator of The Edge Chronicle books by Paul Stewart. He's also (in most of the world, but oddly not here) the illustrator of many of Neil Gaiman's books.
Nine years ago, Riddell started a delightful series in the tradition of Pippi Longstocking — Ottoline. She's the daughter of explorers who are almost never home but have put together a supportive community of helpers for their daughter so that she can live at home in their flat in the Pepper Pot building.
Ottoline and the Yellow Cat (2007) and Ottoline Goes to School (2008) were published in the United States. My kids and I devoured them. I don't know how many times we read those two volumes. And then the Ottoline supply dried up here. Thank goodness for the internet making importing books easier, so that we could read >Ottoline at Sea.
After six years, I figured we had seen the last of Ottoline — giving her a nice trilogy. Until late September of this year when I saw a tweet from Chris Riddell announcing the publication date of Ottoline and the Purple Fox on October second. After a brief moment of nearly hyperventilating, I put in an order to get it imported. It like Ottoline at Sea is still not easily available here.
In this fourth volume, Ottoline's life is opened up to new possibilities after she realizes that she needs to weed her parents' collection. There just isn't room in the expansive flat for everything they've sent home from their adventures. As someone who lives in a place with no storage, I'm perpetually weeding. I'm in the middle of another book weeding project.
In the process of taking out the garbage, she meets up with a purple fox who gives night time tours of the animal life of the city. The bear in the laundry room of the Pepper Pot isn't the only hidden animal. There are fashion gorillas on the roof and the need for a literal zebra crossing.
But it's not just about a beautiful fox. It's also about new friendships. First there is the Lamppost Poet who has been leaving love letters across the city. And there's Ottoline's double — a girl and her hairy companion. Together they look remarkably like Ottoline and Mr. Munro.
This volume has the same quiet fantasy as the previous ones. Every book has a color theme and this one — despite the green cover — is purple. Purple to compliment the intricate pen and ink drawings.
You can see my live blogging of the book on my Tumblr.