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Oliver Finds His Way
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Oliver Finds His Way

4.3 6
by Phyllis Root, Christopher Denise (Illustrator)

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"The happy ending is totally satisfying and will leave readers smiling."
— SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL (starred review)

Oliver is so intent on following a blowing autumn leaf that he doesn’t even notice that he's lost his way. All alone at the edge of the woods, he starts to cry. He cries and cries — but he is still lost. And so


"The happy ending is totally satisfying and will leave readers smiling."
— SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL (starred review)

Oliver is so intent on following a blowing autumn leaf that he doesn’t even notice that he's lost his way. All alone at the edge of the woods, he starts to cry. He cries and cries — but he is still lost. And so he rubs his nose and tries to think. . . . With warmth, humor, and faith in the power of pluck, Phyllis Root quietly captures a big, defining moment in the world of a small child.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Root (What Baby Wants) uses a minimum of text and Denise (The Fool of the World) alternates close-up portraits with panoramic view to bring a fresh poignancy to the familiar theme of a child so caught up in play that he suddenly finds himself lost and alone. On a gorgeous autumn day, while Mama and Papa tend to chores, Oliver the bear cub follows the airborne path of a big yellow leaf. In nearly cinematic views framed in a clean white border, the artist shows the cub getting farther from home. Before he knows it, Oliver is at the edge of the woods. With economic, staccato-rhythm prose ("Oliver looks for the leaf./ No leaf./ Oliver looks for the house./ No house"), Root evokes the flashes of realization that constitute a child's thought process. Denise's gold-toned charcoal and pastel pictures never distort the landscape into something frightening. The woods where Oliver finds himself may be shadowy, but glimpses of comforting blue sky show through the trees, and a squirrel and bunny who watch Oliver are far from threatening. Denise gets terrific emotional mileage from the interplay of Oliver's tiny eyes, huge head and clown-like snout; readers will have no trouble empathizing with his plight. And when Oliver figures out that he can find his way back through call-and-response roars with his parents, youngsters will cheer his noisy ingenuity, too. Ages 3-6. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
While his Mama and Papa are busy, Oliver chases a leaf to the edge of the woods, where he realizes he is lost. After crying, he thinks, then begins to roar, louder and louder. When Mama and Papa roar back, he can follow the sound back home to hugs, and another "big yellow leaf, just for Oliver." The brief, simple text, printed in large type, grows mightier with each "Roar!" The end is reassuring, but let's hope the lesson on careless wandering is not lost in the happy ending. The sparseness of the words cries out for visual narrative to illuminate the psychological drama. And Denise's soft-edged pastel and charcoal descriptions of the bears and the woods answer this call admirably. From the cover's introduction of an anxious Oliver eyeing his yellow leaf, through the end-paper's depiction of his parents and house at the beginning, to the back picture of the home at twilight, detailed scenes show us young Oliver in action. Setting the story in the autumn makes for a subtle blending of warm colors as the pictures help us feel the various emotions. Originally published as a picture book, Root and Denise's work smoothly transitions to a board book format for an even younger audience. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Descriptive yet succinct language tells the story of a small bear who gets lost while chasing an autumn leaf. First he bursts into tears, but when he realizes that crying doesn't help, he devises a plan to get him back home to Mama and Papa and "tumble-down hugs." Denise effectively uses a red, orange, gold, and yellow palette of pastels and charcoal on paper to illustrate the seasonal story. Children see lots of white space until Oliver becomes lost. Then, the full-spread illustrations take on a darker palette to bring home the scariness of the situation. The happy ending is totally satisfying and will leave readers smiling.-Kathleen Simonetta, Indian Trails Public Library District, Wheeling, IL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Most children experience the gripping fear of losing their bearings and the overwhelming relief of finding their way again at least once in their lifetime. Root (What's That Noise?, p. 953, etc.) gently approaches this potentially frightening rite of passage through Oliver, a curious and adorable bear cub, as he, "chases a big yellow leaf down the hill, around a clumpy bush, under a twisty tree, and all the way to the edge of the woods," out of the sight of his parents busy working on outdoor chores. After he loses track of the leaf, Oliver suddenly realizes he too is lost and desperately tries to retrace his steps. But he is unable to find his particular twisty tree or clumpy bush. When a round of crying doesn't prove helpful Oliver, "rubs his nose and tries to think. He thinks and thinks and thinks." Oliver's own clever idea to roar loudly gets his parents' attention and ultimately lands him safely in their arms. Pastel and charcoal illustrations beautifully capture the quaint country farmhouse, colorful foliage, and filtered sunlight of a crisp fall day in New England. Especially appealing are Oliver's expressions as he experiences the awe of exploring new territory, the realization and fear of being lost, and the happiness of discovering his way home. A simple yet highly relevant tale for young readers. (Picture book. 2-5)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.70(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.00(d)
AD200L (what's this?)
Age Range:
2 - 5 Years

Meet the Author

Phyllis Root, the author of several award-winning books for children, lives in Minnesota with her two daughters. About the inspiration for OLIVER FINDS HIS WAY, Phyllis Root recounts this anecdote from her childhood: "Once when I was very young, the legs I thought were my mother’s in a crowd turned out to belong to a stranger. My mother was lost. I hollered really loud, just like Oliver, and my mother found me."

Christopher Denise grew up in New England, and is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. He was drawn to the story of Oliver because, he says, "I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to draw scenes of New England in the fall - bright blue skies, brilliant displays of red, yellow, and purple, cool crisp air, long visits to my grandparents’ house and, best of all, playing in the leaves." Christopher Denise’s first picture book was published in 1994, and since then he has illustrated seven more, including A REDWALL WINTER'S TALE by Brian Jacques.

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Oliver Finds His Way 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
brycenesbitt More than 1 year ago
This has been among our favorite books for years, over two children and dozens (maybe hundreds) of readings. We just assumed it was some sort of well known classic. Yet there are only two reviews here as of Jan 2012, and the book seems unrecognized and a bit obscure. Well it should be a classic! Each sentence is highly crafted: there is nothing extra nothing left out. The story is sweet and real and accessible, and a great launching off point for discussions with a child about getting lost, getting scared, and what to do.
BKidd More than 1 year ago
We first found this book at the library and decided it was too good to not have at the house, so we bought it! Very cute characters and beautiful illustrations, a must-have for a young reader's library.
AmberDee More than 1 year ago
Adorable story teaches children about courage and finding their own way while instilling knowledge of the safety, reliability, and love of family. Wonderful illustrations and a sweet sweet story. This is our very favorite book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is wonderful. The illustrations are neat, the kids like to roar along with Oliver, and it's a great lesson. Get it - it's a great book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading 'Oliver finds his way' my children practice calling us loudly if they can't find us. They practice calling us by our first names when we're in public, (because everyone is Mom or Daddy) but at home they sometimes actually ROAR. This book is so wonderful it can bring a tear to your eye. And what a lesson to teach children: crying won't help, you must roar!