I have a confession to make: My daughter hates reading.  It breaks my heart because reading is one of the things that I love the most!  I’m very fortunate that I work at job where I have access to mountains of children’s literature and library professionals (my amazing co-workers) who are willing to give me suggestion after suggestion to try to spark any interest in reading in my child.

That is why I was so excited to get a chance to review Malice in Ovenland, a graphic novel for children.  An excellent pick for reluctant readers, it’s a cute, gross, and, endearing romp through a fantastical world hidden behind an oven. Lilly’s heroic journey reminded me of the comic series, Princeless by Jeremy Whitley. With art and a storyline appropriate for the pre-teen crowd and an empowered female protagonist, I could see this being a great addition to any library’s juvenile graphic art collection.

What I enjoyed most about Malice in Ovenland were the homages to other great works of children’s literature. The obvious one, of course, is to Alice in Wonderland but I also caught shades of the Lord of the Rings in the poem included at the end of Chapter 1. The moment that Crumb comes to visit Lilly in the dungeon reminded me of when Taran met Gurgi in the Black Cauldron. The Queen’s advisor, named Crispodemus, reminded me of Nicodemus the rat from the classic children’s story, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O’Brien. (One of my all-time favorites, by the way) And finally, The Royal Rangers reminded me of the Beagle Boys from Duck Tales– bumbling, minimally intelligent thugs, who would be harmless if they weren’t so determined to be bad.

Malice in Ovenland would be a great title for a reluctant reader or a reluctant eater! The story, in addition to the adventure, teaches kids to not be afraid to try new things- either food or life related. It’s a message that can’t be repeated enough. The humor is mainly gross-out or potty related but, as a mother of a soon-to-be-10 year old, that’s exactly where her humor is at right now. It’s perfect for the audience that it is seeking.

Big thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a free digital edition of this title for review purposes and thanks for reading!

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