Monday 4 October 2021

Oliver’s First Big Spy Adventure


Oliver’s First Big Spy Adventure by Vicki Bennett with Oliver Orth, illustrated by Vicki Bennett (Boolarong Press) PB RRP $19.99 ISBN: 9781925877038

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

Oliver doesn’t realise it, but his grandmother – nicknamed Noodle Pop – has been training him to be a spy. One day they overhear a suspicious conversation. Noodle Pop takes off, trailing the bad guys, and Oliver follows. He sees the baddies grab his grandmother and throw her into a van. Suddenly, his spy training kicks in, and he’s determined to save Noodle Pop. Can he be brave and find her in time?

Vicki Bennett wrote this book with the help of her own young grandson, and it shows – it’s a lively spy story that will hook kids aged six to ten years from the very first chapter. The use of present tense keeps readers in the moment, and they feel like they are on the adventure with Oliver as he is kidnapped, escapes, rides a horse, commandeers a boat and is saved from drowning by a pod of dolphins.

Vicki also supplied the black-and-white illustrations that are scattered throughout the pages. The images have an endearing naïve quality – as if a child has drawn them – that will appeal to the youngsters reading the book. Many of the illustrations also have a humorous element, which helps to balance the thrills and spills occurring in the text.

Featuring simple language that lets the action speak for itself, Oliver’s First Big Spy Adventure is a dynamic page-turner with a great sense of fun. Wannabe spies will love Oliver’s resourcefulness and adore the special bond he has with his bold grandmother.

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