Olly & the Spores of Oak Hill
By Glenn Somodi, 2022
Genre: Fiction/Middle Grade
A cryptic map. A statue. A key. Gold nuggets. A strange symbol and a hole in a wall. A hidden door and a greedy developer bent on destroying a quiet community with a shopping mall. All this and more can be found between the pages of Glenn Somodi’s delightful and enchanting Olly & the Spores of Oak Hill.
As the book opens, Oren Appleton is dead. The ”geeky, nature-loving” former Harvard professor died under suspicious circumstances. He left everything to his son and grandson, Oliver “Olly” Appleton. Olly and his parents move from Ohio to Littleton, Massachusetts to claim their inheritance and a world of mystery in this charming story that will captivate and delight middle grade readers.
Fifteen year-old Olly has a passion for plants and nature. In fact, he’s a “nature geek” just like his beloved and eccentric grandfather, also known as “Poppy.” When Olly and his mom and dad arrive in Massachusetts, Olly soon discovers that there’s more to Oak Hill than meets the eye. Turns out Poppy’s estate is located in an enchanted wood. Rumors of little creatures living in the woods around Littleton, MA abound.
According to legend, these little creatures are called “Nikommo.” Olly and his new friend, Ember, are about to find out how these creatures are connected to the Appletons, Oak Hill, and the future.
Meanwhile, Olly and Em discover a secret door. It has them wondering if maybe Oren Appleton wasn’t so “crazy” after all. There’s also Puckwudgies. Puffball dust. Protein pucks. The Green Beast. Clover. A water tower. Blue moss and a Colorado correspondent named Amanita Muscaria (mushroom connoisseurs will get that).
Olly also learns that a greedy business man, Henry Dalton, has plans to develop a mall on the Appleton property under “eminent domain,” destroying Oak Hill in the process. Can Olly and Em dodge the town bullies and save Oak Hill and their friends from the avaricious Dalton before it’s too late?
Sturdy writing and compelling characterizations propel this engaging and enjoyable read like a blast from a fire hose. Or a squeeze from a puffball. (You’ll have to read the book to get that.) The story also encourages kindness to animals, responsible stewardship of natural resources, and the protection of endangered species.
Just. Plain. Fun
Overall, this book is Just. Plain. Fun. Witty and whimsical, Olly and the Spores of Oak Hill features prodigious world-building skills, clever word play, and some really awful puns that are sure to tickle your funny bone. It’s an absorbing and entertaining weft of imagination, inspiration, mystery, and discovery, with characters you’ll want to come back to again and again (except for Buzz Dalton and Trent McNabb). Incidentally, the cover art is awesome.
Keep an Eye Out
Keep any eye out for more adventures with Olly and Ember and their Spore best friends, Cremini, Bella, Truffles, and Magpie (mushroom fans will get that, too). Because Olly and the Spores of Oak Hill is the first book in a series of adventures. More to follow. So stay tuned! I can’t wait!
February 23, 2023 at 7:10 pm
Aww, this sounds so cute, and I love the cover.
February 23, 2023 at 8:10 pm
Isn’t it cool? This book surprised me. Lots of fun here!