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The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman

The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman

3.6 5
by Darcy Pattison, Joe Cepeda (Illustrator)

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How does a wooden man make it all the way across the country? With a lot of help from lots of friendly people! Join him on an unforgettable trip across the USA.


How does a wooden man make it all the way across the country? With a lot of help from lots of friendly people! Join him on an unforgettable trip across the USA.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

star "Wonderful . . . All geography lessons should be this much fun."--Kirkus Reviews (starred)
star "A mini-quest complete with adventure, danger, and suspense. Youngsters will delight in the whimsy."--The Bulletin (starred)

Publishers Weekly
Part geography lesson, part cross-country travelogue, this tale begins when young Tameka writes to her Uncle Ray in Rock Hill, S.C., and invites him to visit her in Redcrest, Calif. The innovative carpenter-unable to make the trip-builds and sends in his place an enigmatic emissary. Oliver K. Woodman, a wooden figure akin to a large marionette without strings, sports a bright orange felt hat and a backpack that carries a note asking travelers to "give me a ride" and "drop a note to my friend, Raymond Johnson." Oliver makes the coast-to-coast trek "hitching rides" from truckers and three elderly sisters, joining Miss Utah in a parade and even scaring away bears in the Redwood forest. The entire tale unfolds through correspondence written in various typefaces, and occasional wordless spreads, painted in Cepeda's (What a Truly Cool World) unmistakable palette, which demonstrate the breathtaking beauty of America's varied vistas. In one, the artist depicts an insignificant-looking Oliver standing alongside a New Mexico highway with mesas and a pink sky filled with thunder clouds that seem to drift off the pages. Pattison (The River Dragon) nicely varies the voices and pacing throughout (e.g., "So when Quinn's cousin's boyfriend's aunt was leaving to visit her sick grandfather in Fort Smith, Ark., the guys loaded Mr. OK into the aunt's station wagon," an Arkansan writes), and the story's emphasis on geography (the final endpapers trace Oliver's trip) injects added interest into this warm tale that ends in a family reunion after all. Ages 5-8. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
"...it's plain that Oliver has a great personality and should be making a return trip."
Children's Literature
There is a perfect story and illustration blend in The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman, the newest work from award-wining artist Joe Cepeda and writer, Darcy Pattison. Pattison's well-chosen words and Cepeda's engaging art are deceptively simple. Their combined magic begs for a closer examination that will provoke thought. Pattison tells her story in a series of correspondences. They begin with a plea from Tameka, who lives in Redcrest, California. She wants Ray, her "favorite uncle," to visit. But Ray has to work, so instead he creates a replacement. Illustrations show Ray constructing Oliver K. Woodman, an expressionless wooden man. Then Ray tucks a message into Oliver's backpack asking drivers to take the wooden man to Tameka and send him notes about Oliver's journey. Oliver is a crude wooden figure who has no mouth. And yet, you could swear he looks anxious in the truck bed next to Bert, the Brahman bull. And he seems chummy with his arms draped over the shoulders of two vivacious sisters from Memphis. He looks lost and worried standing small and alone in a wide-skied endless New Mexico desert. Pattison's letters, written in a different type-face, are no longer than five or six lines. And yet, the personalities of the writers shine through as so does their relationship with Oliver. Miss Utah, tired of waving in the parade, is "inspired by Mr. Woodman's brave smile." Three elderly sisters win
— Susie Wilde
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-A map of the United States appears on the front endpapers of this book, and the title page shows an African-American girl sitting at a desk, writing a letter as she smiles widely. Tameka has invited her Uncle Ray, who lives in South Carolina, to visit her in California. Unable to get away, he builds a life-sized wooden man and sends it in his place. A note in Oliver's pouch asks people to help him get to his destination and to send Ray a note if they do. Their letters and postcards form the basis of this story as Oliver travels in a truck with a Brahman bull, a station wagon, and a moving van. The boldly colored, textured illustrations were made with oils over an acrylic under-painting on boards, and the unframed panoramic spreads portray the countryside and the assorted colorful characters who assist Oliver at various legs of his cross-country trek. Uncluttered paintings move viewers' eyes across the pages. Small, interesting details abound, and children will be pleased with the satisfying conclusion. A map at the back shows Oliver's route. A fresh, unusual tale.-Kathleen Simonetta, Indian Trails Public Library District, Wheeling, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An epistolary picture book whimsically teaches geography, encouraging readers to follow the peregrinations of a life-sized wooden figure. When Tameka invites her Uncle Ray, a woodworker, to visit her in California, he responds that he can't-but he will send a wooden doll he has fashioned in his stead. Oliver is duly propped up by the side of the road to hitch a ride ("California or bust," reads his placard), a note in his backpack requesting that his conveyers send postcards back to his friend Ray. What follows is a genial romp that moves back and forth among Oliver, Ray, and Tameka, as Oliver makes his way across the country. The landscape orientation enhances sweeping full-bleed spreads; wordless double-paged openings feature Oliver against the changing American geography and alternate with postcards and letters written by his helpers to inform Ray of his progress. Cepeda's (Why Heaven Is Far Away, 2002, etc.) cheerily energetic oils vary perspective and angle with abandon, giving the story a wonderful movement. Rendered over an acrylic underpainting; the bits of color that show through the oil coat also lend individual spreads terrific energy. The genius of the interaction between illustration and Pattison's (The Wayfinder, not reviewed) deadpan postcard text is that the tension regarding Oliver-is he just a giant doll or is he "real"-is never really resolved. Pictured in Reno with a trio of gray-haired sisters from Kokomo, Oliver stands in the background by the craps table, holding up one wooden finger and looking on expressionlessly. The letter reads, "Mr. Oliver's advice was very helpful. We won $5,000!" Who knows? Readers, like Tameka and those who encounter Oliver on his way, willbe happy to choose to believe. Endpapers feature bright, complementary maps of the US: the front is empty, while the back is marked by dotted lines showing Oliver's journey. All geography lessons should be this much fun. (Picture book. 5-8)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 11.30(h) x 0.20(d)
640L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
star "Wonderful . . . All geography lessons should be this much fun."—Kirkus Reviews
star "A mini-quest complete with adventure, danger, and suspense. Youngsters will delight in the whimsy."—The Bulletin

Meet the Author

DARCY PATTISON, the author of picture books and novels for young readers, teaches writing at the University of Central Arkansas. She lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

JOE CEPEDA has illustrated many books for children, including What a Truly Cool World by Julius Lester, Nappy Hair by Carolivia Herron, and Searching for Oliver K. Woodman by Darcy Pattison. He lives in Whittier, California.

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The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous 26 days ago
It was pretty fun we had to send oliver difrent states
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is an excellent resource for connecting geography, researching states and culture, and writing. Oliver became an character that we brought into our classroom. We traveled along with him and researched the types of cultures and communities in each state that Oliver visited in this fantastic book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I Hate It So much i had to put 1¿1=0 so i put 0