A children’s picture book story about a kind troll who helps a young boy out of a predicament, Oscar and the Noisy Children teaches readers to look out for others.
Oscar, a troll, sees five children playing in the woods; having never encountered human children before, he hides and observes them. The personalities of each are described in detail, including of the youngest—a “fierce and impulsive” boy named Nathaniel.
Oscar watches as Nathaniel gets separated from the others without them realizing it and finds himself trapped in a mud pit. Oscar covertly alerts the children, leaving clues to lead them to their friend. Eventually, though, he finds Nathaniel deeply distressed and decides to help directly. When the other children finally arrive, they all work together to pull Nathaniel from the mud.
This heartwarming story offers pleasing illustrations featuring expressive depictions of the characters and a soft, sometimes watercolor-like pallet. The story itself has a clear protagonist and supporting cast, and the stakes—with Nathaniel unable to escape the mud alone—are compelling. All the characters must work together to save the day, and this is clearly shown in the text and images.
However, there are a few questions left unresolved. For example, are the humans familiar with trolls in their world? Oscar goes to great lengths to remain hidden, suggesting that trolls don’t interact with humans. But when the children find him helping Nathaniel, they are only alarmed about the mud, as if they’d seen trolls before. Also: the story indicates that the children leave a thank you note for Oscar in his favorite place; how do they know about this spot?
Additionally, while the narrator details the children’s personalities, some of these characters don’t play much of a role beyond their introductions, rendering such details superfluous.
Despite these issues, Oscar and the Noisy Children is an adventure gone wrong that ends happily and sets a positive example for young readers.