Review of Olivetti

Olivetti Olivetti
by Allie Millington
Intermediate    Feiwel    256 pp.
3/24    9781250326935    $17.99
e-book ed.  9781250326942    $9.99

Ernest is a quiet, shy boy fascinated by the Oxford English Dictionary. Along with his three siblings and his father, he is disturbed and mystified by the sudden disappearance of his mother, Beatrice. In his quest to find her, Ernest has two allies: outgoing friend Quinn and a sentient typewriter named Olivetti. Olivetti can see, hear, feel, and—though otherwise inanimate—communicate by typing (as long as someone provides paper). The typewriter also retains a memory of everything that was ever typed on him. His first-person narration alternates with Ernest’s as the mystery plot deepens. Clues and shenanigans, quirks and magic, create a smokescreen for both Ernest and the reader, obscuring the real-world human story of a parent with cancer, which is gradually and poignantly revealed. In a surreal, rollicking conclusion, Ernest and his family, including the returned Beatrice, join forces with Olivetti to liberate and repair abandoned typewriters and create a revolution of joyful human-typewriter interaction. The point here could involve an upending of our dystopian AI worries, or could be as simple as a celebration of writing as a therapeutic endeavor in times of trouble. Either way, Ernest is a memorable character in an equally memorable family.

From the May/June 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.