Reviews

The Odessa Chronicles

I’ve been aware of The Odessa Chronicles for several years, thanks to the incessant, shameless plugging by its authors, Carolyn Shelton (joyroses13.wordpress.com) and Colin Chappell (meandray.com). They follow my blog, and I follow theirs. And if you’ve ever followed our comments, you may have noticed how much we sometimes antagonize each other. It’s all in good fun, but whew, it sure gets dicey at times.

My impression from their plugs was that The Odessa Chronicles was an apologue of talking animals that teaches moral lessons. So I was resistant to read it, as there’s a rebel in me that I enjoy harboring. Moral lessons are anathema to us rebels.

But in an idle moment of insanity, I took a look at their book on Amazon and decided to give it a go. But hell, I wasn’t about to fork over 25 bucks for the hardcover edition. And the paperback version isn’t much cheaper. So I ended up shelling out $4.99 for the Kindle version, which I read on my PC.

The first thing I noticed was that the writing was highly polished, flowed smoothly, and captivated my attention. This surprised me, as Carolyn’s blog posts, while fun to read, tend to contain technical errors, misspells, and head-scratchers. I wondered, did Carolyn write the rough, while Colin applied the sandpaper? I suspect that was at least partially the case.

I’m pretty sure Colin wrote the owl character’s lines, though, for they often involve the owl humorously correcting everyone’s use of the English language, with punctilious perspicacity. That’s pure Colin.

And the book indicates that Colin wrote at least a few other chapters, such as Odessa’s Journey. The fact that Colin had a strong influence in the making of this book, gave me hope that it would contain a definitive ending. Which it did. Sort of.

There are 48 chapters, counting the Introduction, and most chapters required only a few minutes to read, even for a slow reader like me. A few chapters were rather long, but they were broken down into parts. I appreciated this, as it was very considerate of my short attention span.

The first four chapters, after the Introduction, introduce the characters, who are Jaxon (a Jackalope), Odessa (an owl), Dewey (a cat), and Joshua Jeremiah Jonathan Jackson Pebblestone, aka the Man-Servant (a human being).

Jaxon, the Jackalope, has magical powers, and makes it possible for all four characters to communicate with each other. Dewey the cat takes advantage of this, and starts ordering Joshua around, finally giving him the nickname, Man-Servant.

Jaxon, Odessa, Dewey, and the Man-Servant decide to call themselves the Four Adventurers. They live on a farm, called Moonbeam Farm, where most of their adventures occur. Here they come to life, as the authors insightfully paint their characters with depth and feeling. By the middle of the book I sensed that I had come to know them well, and could regard them as my fictional friends.

Many of their adventures involve the animals pulling practical jokes on the man-servant, and the man-servant getting his revenge by japing them back.

The authors lace lessons on life into the adventures, often in humorous ways. I got quite a few chuckles, and this made the dreaded moral lessons easier to swallow.

While swallowing, here’s a few things I learned for my moral edification:

  • If you pull a practical joke on someone, expect one to be pulled on you (The Roof Top Incident).
  • Just reading about something, such as riding a bicycle, does not make you an expert on it (The Bicycle Adventure).
  • Don’t agree to do something without knowing what’s involved (Brave Dewey).
  • Be clear and logical in the way you communicate (the many dialogues with Odessa the Owl).
  • Don’t play in cardboard boxes sitting by the side of the road (The Cardboard Boxes!).
  • Don’t interfere with elections (The Greenwoods Election!).
  • Give gifts that the receiver will appreciate, and not necessarily the giver (Dewey’s Gift-Giving Day).
  • Don’t use magic to harm others (Dewey goes on a “Ride”).
  • Do as you say you are going to do (The Spirit From The North).
  • Don’t cheat at gambling (The Horse Race).
  • Follow your heart and comfort those who need comforting (Dewey and Jaxon Follow Their Hearts).
  • It doesn’t always have to be summer. You can have fun any time of the year. (The Trouble With Fall).
  • Not everyone likes, nor should eat, a Fluffernutter sandwich (The Picnic Lunch).
  • Unicorns are real, and can cure you of the blues (The Dewey Blues).
  • When you pull a joke on someone, think it through thoroughly, first, to make sure they don’t get hurt (A Snowy Day Adventure).
  • Sometimes you can have the best adventures in your own backyard, and they don’t even have to be planned (A Snowy Day Adventure).

A touching and suspenseful adventure (Odessa’s Journey) takes place about a third of the way into the book, where the owl, Odessa, leaves Moonbeam Farm to find some meaning to her life. This tale is broken down into 4 parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 3. Yes, that’s right, there are two Part 3’s. This is one of the few technical glitches I found in the book. I don’t like to be nitpicky, but since Odessa the Owl can be very particular and exacting, I think it’s only fitting for me, too, as the reader and reviewer.

There are bizarre moments, such as when the adventurers meet two seagulls named Bob One and Bob Two (The Odessa Odyssey). When addressed together, they ask to be referred to as Bob Three, since One plus Two equals Three. Although Bob Twelve could also work. Think about it.

This is a long book, by my aversion-to-reading standards, sort of reminding me of War and Peace. No, nothing is that long. The real problem is, I read slowly. But the chapters are self-contained adventures, so it was easy to digest it piecemeal, while gradually working my way through, over the course of a few weeks.

Colin is Canadian, and Carolyn is a lady of the States. Together, they have reached across an international border and conspired to write a classic. I loved the book. They tout it as a book for children of all ages, so perhaps I’m betraying my low maturity level. But I think it’s a good read.

The Odessa Chronicles is available for sale, on Amazon. You can click this link to learn more.

Categories: Reviews

137 replies »

  1. “you may have noticed how much we sometimes antagonize each other. It’s all in good fun” Whoa, that’s all in good fun? Off to cancel my carefully planned, slowly developing, and expensive, nefarious plot that was set to unfold in the coming weeks upon all of you.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. HI TG – I am so happy that you enjoyed the fruits of our labour (and you can no doubt understand the intense labour involved due to working with Carolyn). I would like to suggest that you also post it on the site from where you purchased the book. Reviews are so important to those of us do not have $$$$$$$$$ to invest in advertising. I was quoted $18,000.00Cdn/year for a publicist to get involved. Not a hope!

    Hey Tippy! This is Odessa. Colin just left to go somewhere, so here I am with beak and claws on the keyboard. You really should listen to him because he does occasionally make sense, and I would really like you to do what he suggests. Of course you may wish to adapt it to for a more public forum, but he probably won’t mind. If he doesn’t understand, then I will just have to explain it him (seems like I am always doing that!). I had to smile at your comment about the two Chapter 3’s. Colin went dashing off to get a copy of the book to check, and what a surprise he got! He muttered something about half a brain, but I have no idea what that was all about. Anyway, I have to go so I will post it now before Colin gets a chance to change anything. Thanks again Tippy. For a human, you’re alright!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “Antagonize each other ..” Noooo….really! 😜

    So glad to know that you enjoyed it and even more importantly that we could teach you some lessons through it , for you definitely need all the help you can get! You are welcome. 🙂

    I smiled as I read your words about ir being so polished and flowing so smoothly….and then. …yeah, “No comment!”

    Thanks for helping to spread the word with your review. Appreciated! Just out of curiosity did you have a favorite story? I am guessing the Unicorn one? A favorite character?

    I especially liked your “I had come to know them well and could regard them as my fictional friends…” line. Told ya they had a way of wrapping themselves around your heart. Glad they found yours. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m on board with all the lessons except “Not everyone likes, nor should eat, a Fluffernutter sandwich.” Next to Reese Cups, fluffernutter is the world’s greatest culinary invention! I’ll keep the Odessa Chronicles in mind when I’m hankering a bit of light reading. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Please excuse this intrusion by a mere follower and a nonmember of Blogdom’s finest bloggers. Considering that you closely perused the entire book, undoubtedly you must have read the Acknowledgments found at the end. An original tester, as noted there, prior to The Odessa Chronicles being published was my darling Grandson, Benjamin. Now 6 years old, he was a mere 4 years of age when I first began reading the stories to him. At that time I would condense the writing to fit his understanding and to maintain his attention. Over time this became unnecessary. Benjamin’s favorite character is Jaxon and he was ecstatic when Colin sent a stuffed Jackalope for his very own. The Odessa Chronicles and Jaxon have visited both preschools and most recently Benjamin’s kindergarten classroom. It is a source of pride to him that each of his teachers read stories from Benjamin’s book to his classmates. I enjoyed your review of this marvelous book and agree that it should be shared. I must admit that never during the reading of Odessa’s Journey had I noticed that there are two Part 3’s. That could be due to Part 3-A being several pages long. Thank-you! P.S. I’m not sure if the wee blue character will remain after I press post comment, but I do hope so!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Well Tippy you outdid yourself. This morning I saw the review you left on Amazon and I was left speechless at the end when you compared it to 2 of my favorite books as a child. 🙂 Usually when I am left speechless by your words, its for a very different reason. LOL!
    Thank you very much!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome. And I meant my words. I’ve read Wind in the Willows, and when I was a kid, my sister read Charlotte’s Web to me. I was fascinated with the book, but never actually read it myself. I think kids would find The Odessa Chronicles as fascinating as both those books.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Reblogged this on Nuggets of Gold and commented:

    A good blogger friend posted this review of “The Odessa Chronicles” on his blog and I wanted to share it with all of you. For though I may have been shaking my head and laughing at some of his words in the beginning, the more I read the more smiles that filled my heart. In the detailed review he shares how he thought “The Odessa Chronicles”was just for kids, but … he found out differently! Enjoy and perhaps his review will entice you to give it a try! Thanks again Tippy, for bringing smiles to Colin and I.

    Liked by 2 people

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