Olive of Groves (series)
ABC Books, 2023
288pp., pbk., RRP $A17.99
Mrs Groves’ Boarding School for Naughty Boys, Talking Animals and Circus Performers is NOT the place for an ordinary girl like Olive but because her grandparents just wanted her to be able to mix with other people it is where she has ended up by mistake. And because going to boarding school has been her dream, Olive decides to stay even though she has to tell a lie that she is an acrobat to be able to satisfy the entry requirements because she is neither a naughty boy, a talking animal or an actual circus performer. Apart from not being an acrobat, as those who are are keen to show her, she has to contend with a principal who is terrified of ordinary girls like her and whose leadership and management skills are non-existent as she seems to be perpetually flustered and flummoxed; a supercilious, egotistical pig who is a bully and determined to make her life unbearable, a goose that faints at the slightest thing, and sharing a strange turret room with three talking rats. Thank goodness she has some allies.
Originally published in 2015 and shortlisted for the 2016 Indie Book Awards, this is a whimsical series for younger readers who can lose themselves in the nonsense of such a scenario and just enjoy Olive’s adventures for what they are. There is tension and drama as the series progresses – it is one best read in order – but this is offset by the crazy characters, the situations they find themselves in and the clever dialogue. Even the title is a clever play on words. As all three have been republished and released at the same time, this is a series for those who like to binge-read without having to wait for the next episode.