Tom Hoffman takes the reader into his wonderful fantasy world of Orville Mouse in his series of Orville Wellington Mouse Adventures, the latest of which is Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Sagacious Sapling. Orville Mouse, his best friend (and maybe girlfriend?) Sophia Mouse embark on another adventure through space and time, on this occasion, with his faithful companion Proto and the assistance of a rather unusual tree, we come to know as the Sagacious Sapling. There is trouble afoot in Muridaan Falls, when Orville and Sophie begin to experience some time flips, which they soon discover are the precursor to a massive time shift about to hit them resulting from an enormous explosion some hundreds of thousands of years ago. Somehow, the intrepid band of metaphysical adventurers must travel back in time to the prehistoric, jungle world of Ferus and prevent the explosion from ever occurring and releasing the Great Thaumatarian Time Wave, before it reaches their world and plunges them back into the past, some five thousand years.
Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Sagacious Sapling is my first foray into the work of Tom Hoffman and indeed his fantasy world of Orville Mouse. This book is the fifth adventure involving these characters and although it is not necessary to have read the previous books, it is always an advantage, I feel, to read a series in order. As a reader, once you get your head around the idea that this story is a fantasy adventure and indeed the two main characters are actually mice, the characters, their foibles and traits very definitely do grow on you. Orville and Sophia are truly sweet and adorable characters, but much of the humour and enjoyment I derived from the story came from the two offbeat characters, Proto (a robot of sorts) and of course, Leaf, the sagacious sapling. I loved the way they analysed Orville’s jokes and tried to replicate the humour themselves. The idea of logical thinking, programmed, machines beginning to adapt and understand humour while not novel was definitely intriguing. Hoffman has probably targeted the Orville Wellington Mouse sagas at the Young Adult market, but to be perfectly honest, I would suggest there is nothing in this book that would preclude it from being read at a younger age and also by older readers. It is a good, old-fashioned, swashbuckling adventure tale, whose two protagonists just happen to be a couple of mice. It was an excellent read and I would definitely recommend it.