Book Review: Ollie and Augustus, by Gabriel Evans

A heartwarming story about little Ollie’s determination to make sure his great big dog Augustus is okay when he’s at school.

By
A gentle book about the love between a boy and his dog.
Overall
4

Gabriel Evans is an Australian children’s author and illustrator. This new edition to his portfolio is about love and learning to manage without your closest friend being always by your side.

Ollie and Augustus is a story about a boy and his dog. Ollie and Augustus do everything together: things like painting, digging and stick collecting. But eventually Ollie must start school. What will happen to Augustus, left home alone without his best friend? And how will Ollie cope at school without his one true friend?

Ollie decides to find an alternative friend for Augustus but it is not as easy as he thought it would be. He interviews many possibilities but can just anyone fill in the big hole that will be left when Ollie goes to school? We discover that perhaps Augustus is really the brave one, and Ollie is the one who needs to let go and trust that his life will be waiting for him when he gets home.

Some of Evans’ previous books have much more brightly coloured illustrations but those in Ollie and Augustus are more roughly drawn, using muted water colours, mostly browns. But I found the pictures didn’t need bright colours to get across the emotions that Evans is trying to convey. He is able to make his characters appealing and have heart. We can feel the emotions they are going through just by the looks and actions of the two main characters. The illustrations are also full of humour.

The uncoloured frontispiece has extra illustrations of Ollie and Augustus playing together. I get the sense that they are discarded ideas – pictures that didn’t find their way into the main part of the book, but nonetheless add to the story.

Ollie and Augustus is a lovely book to read to children who are about to start school. Many worry about what their mother may do without them. They also worry how they will cope without their primary caregiver. This book gives them hope that everything will be okay.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

Distributed by: Walker Books Australia
Released: September 2019
RRP: $26.99

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