The Hedgehog of Oz – Cory Leonardo. Aladdin, 2021. 9781534467590
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: animal fantasy
What did you like about the book? Marcel the hedgehog has been living at the Emerald City Theater ever since becoming separated from his owner, a red-sneakered, pigtailed girl named Dorothy. At the movie theater, Marcel lives in the abandoned balcony with two runaway chickens, survives on foraged popcorn and candy, and every Saturday watches a matinee presentation of The Wizard of Oz. When the theater building is condemned, Marcel is caught and released into the forest. He soon happens upon a tiny city of mice, called Mousekinland, and is encouraged by the mayor to follow his heart to return to the city and reunite with his Dorothy.
The quest is not easy, but Marcel is joined by a brave, sling-shooting mouse named Scamp, the daughter of the mayor of Mousekinland who is out to prove herself; Ingot, a grumpy old squirrel with a mysterious past; and Tuffy, a baby raccoon who is also looking to return to the city. Pursued by an owl named Wickedwing, the quartet crosses treacherous terrain, confronts a flock of seagulls and a rat colony and other dangers along the way. Throughout the book, Marcel identifies obvious parallels between his journey and the plot of his favorite movie, and gains inspiration from the movie’s iconic song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” This is a sweet and exciting adventure with wonderful and unexpected friendships, and a conclusion that reinforces the idea that, no matter how you define it, there is truly no place like home.
Anything you did not like about the book? Occasional illustrations (especially if as cute and appealing as the cover) would have really enhanced the story and helped readers with envisioning some of the characters and scenarios.
To whom would you recommend this book? Upper elementary readers of animal fantasies, especially those set in the real world – classics like the Poppy series, Stuart Little or Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH come to mind – will be charmed by Marcel and his entourage. Wizard of Oz fans will also enjoy the connection.
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries
Where would you shelve it? Fiction
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? no
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.
Date of review: 6/7/2021