The Ogress and the Orphans

The Ogress and the Orphans
Age Range
Release Date
March 08, 2022
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Stone-in-the-Glen, once a lovely town, has fallen on hard times. Fires, floods, and other calamities have caused the people to lose their library, their school, their park, and even their neighborliness. The people put their faith in the Mayor, a dazzling fellow who promises he alone can help. After all, he is a famous dragon slayer. (At least, no one has seen a dragon in his presence.) Only the clever children of the Orphan House and the kindly Ogress at the edge of town can see how dire the town’s problems are.

Then one day a child goes missing from the Orphan House. At the Mayor’s suggestion, all eyes turn to the Ogress. The Orphans know this can’t be: the Ogress, along with a flock of excellent crows, secretly delivers gifts to the people of Stone-in-the-Glen.

But how can the Orphans tell the story of the Ogress’s goodness to people who refuse to listen? And how can they make their deluded neighbors see the real villain in their midst?

Editor review

1 review
How can good people be cruel to others?
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
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What worked:
The author says she needed a way to heal her soul after the nastiness and cruelty that grew from a recent presidency. This book tells the story of how simple acts of kindness can spread, as others pass good feelings on to their neighbors. However, in order to share that lesson, the author needs to create a problem of meanness and prejudice. Young readers might not notice references to actual events, but many of the awful comments from characters are eerily disturbing. It’s hard to imagine formerly kind neighbors treating each other with suspicion and selfishness, and it’s all caused by the efforts of one character.
The author helps readers empathize with the ogress, as she’s a wonderfully kind creature. She loves helping others anonymously, out of the kindness of her heart, so the villagers of Stone-in-the-Glen are unaware of her generosity. She constantly tells herself, “The more I give, the more I have.” She takes a special interest in the orphans, as they suffer from the lack of community support. The ogress brings them extra food and steps in to help when other problems arise. The orphans receive strange dreams about what’s actually happening in the village, but it’s hard to trust thoughts that arise from touching books, wood, and stone. It’s fitting to note the characters’ realization that many solutions to problems can be found in books.
The author’s voice is descriptive and philosophical, and it’s shared in the manner of a storyteller. An interview with the author reveals this book began as a shorter fairy tale, but it developed a life of its own and became a novel. The whole tale sounds like the narrator is speaking directly to readers, and there are hints that the narrator is one of the characters. It’s fun to consider comments and evidence throughout the book and imagine the narrator’s identity. The narrator is omniscient at is aware of all events and thoughts. Readers are able to contrast the mayor’s greedy thoughts, words, and actions and contrast them the ogress’s benevolence toward animals, plants, and the villagers.
The final verdict:
How can good people be cruel to others? It’s refreshing to see the kindness of the ogress, and the perseverance of the orphans defeat the discord created by the mayor. I can’t think of any negatives about this book, and readers of all ages will love it.
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