The Emperor’s Ostrich by Julie Berry (review)
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Reviewed by
Berry, Julie The Emperor’s Ostrich. Roaring Brook, 2017[288p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-59643-958-0 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-59643-959-7 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4–6

Begonia is a girl in search of a cow, Key’s a boy in search of an adventure, and the emperor, who is far from his kingdom with only an ostrich for company, just wants to get back home but there are dramatic political forces conspiring against him. Once the cow and ostrich fall in love, the three humans’ lives are intertwined. Since the emperor is under a spell that prevents him from revealing his true identity, Key and Begonia know him only as Lumi, the arrogant, spoiled, helpless man who orders them around. Soon Begonia is deeply embroiled in an entertaining and somewhat perilous effort to save Lumi (who is, in a clever coup attempt, imprisoned and falsely charged with killing the emperor), especially now that his exposure to the real world has changed him into a much more caring, open, and sympathetic person. Berry balances humor, drama, and poignancy effectively, keeping things moving along even while dropping key life lessons about kindness and inclusivity along the way. The baddies are super bad (they want the emperor dead so they can rule), the good guys are blindingly so, and the magic is nicely woven in throughout—this novel is fantasy gold for readers who want a straightforward tale told well. [End Page 445]

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