Ask a Bookseller: 'The Ogress and the Orphans' leaves you filled with hope

Saturday, April 30, was National Independent Bookstore Day. Many bookstores across the state and the country offered events or specials in-person or online.

The cover of the book “The Ogress and the Orphans”
The cover of the book “The Ogress and the Orphans” by Kelly Barnhill.
Courtesy Algonquin Young Readers

Katy Herbold of Sidekick Coffee & Books in Iowa City, Iowa, took a few moments out of her bookstore's preparations for the special day to recommend the novel “The Ogress and the Orphans” by Minneapolis writer Kelly Barnhill.

Herbold called the middle-grade novel "a family read-aloud" that she predicts will be an instant classic. That holds true in her family, where a family reading of the novel held the interest of her children — ages 6, 10 and 14.

"And I love it so much because the characters have unlikely traits. It's very unexpected, and it will leave you just filled with hope. It's a story of hope and love," says Herbold.

As with Barnhill's 2017 Newbery Medal-winning novel "The Girl Who Drank the Moon," kindness and villainy come from unexpected corners in this novel. The Ogress of the title is loving and giving, offering food to orphans without needing acknowledgement for her actions.

The story takes place in a town that has rather mysteriously come to ruin. When an orphan goes missing from the orphanage, blame quickly falls upon the Ogress. It's up to the orphans — each of whom shines with "incredible, fantastic character names" and traits, Herbold says — to help the townspeople see the truth and find the real villain.

Barnhill also has a novel for adults coming out May 3, entitled, "When Women Were Dragons."

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