Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Sagacious Sapling

An Orville Wellington Mouse Adventure • Book 5

Young Adult - Fantasy - Epic
338 Pages
Reviewed on 04/02/2018
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite

There is much wisdom and humor in Tom Hoffman’s final installment of the Orville Mouse Adventurer series: Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Sagacious Sapling. But it’s hard to tell the difference.

“Sophia says the things you’re used to never seem weird.”
“Anyway, how do you know ants don’t throw up when they’re upside down?”

Devoted fans familiar with this terrific series (including old adults who hide behind reviewing jobs to disguise their guilty but glee-filled indulgent pleasures) will greet with happy recognition this latest and greatest metaphysical adventure starring Orville and Sophia, their sidekick Proto the Rabbiton with his tag-along robot dog, Squeaky, and introducing a most sagacious new little buddy, Leaf.

No need to reveal the plot line of Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Sagacious Sapling. Tom Hoffman’s uniquely appealing creation, mighty but fearful Orville, declares it precisely: “Let’s go save the universe.” What does need mentioning is the incredibly satisfying and stimulating camaraderie of Hoffman’s characters as they band together to fulfill – against some mighty intimidating and powerful odds – such an infinitely important mission. What holds readers glued to Hoffman’s books and keeps them coming back for more is the deeply human warmth and friendship shared between such small but courageous creatures. In the end, it is these friendships based on love and humor that assure our grand crusaders' ultimate success. And, along the way, generous allotments of subtle wisdom and tasty snapberry pies for me. Er … for us, the appreciative readers.

Jack Magnus

Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Sagacious Sapling: An Orville Wellington Mouse Adventure, Book 5 is a young adult epic fantasy novel written by Tom Hoffman. Orville had always enjoyed his nocturnal adventures as a lucid dreamer. After all, what metaphysical adventurer wouldn’t grab at any chance for encountering the unknown -- even in dreams? The dream Orville was currently experiencing started nicely enough, with a deep, driving winter storm, something that Orville enjoyed well enough in real life, and an encounter with a most unusual sapling, but his enjoyment began wane soon afterward. Who wouldn’t be wary of strange, prehistoric birds capable of crafting and wielding stone tools; birds who were enthusiastically going about heating up a vast pot filled with water?They were planning to cook him for dinner! Orville woke up screaming just as they were lowering him into the steaming water.

Orville, Sophia and Proto have become old friends of mine, a natural progression resulting from my following their exploits and adventures through each of the four preceding Orville Mouse books. Yes, you can read this book on its own; Tom Hoffman gives you more than enough background information to do so, but please don’t. Read the books in order. Trust me on this. Watching as the somewhat timid and introspective mouse, who lives with his mom and works in a bookstore, comes into his own is an indescribably awesome thing. Orville and Sophia’s friendship is a joy to revel in, and their growing closeness never seems to preclude their shared penchant for joking, teasing and making sure neither one of them gets too full of themselves. Hoffman’s fondness for his Metaphysical Adventurers shines out on every page, and his delight in their companionship is quite infectious. As I began reading, I soon felt as though I had come home again and was hoping, along with Proto, that an adventure was indeed afoot. Hoffman transcends genres with his Orville and Bartholomew Rabbit series. While undeniably cracking good epic fantasy, there’s a vibrant strain of steam punk, metaphysics, high-tech science fiction and good old-fashioned adventure running through each of his books, and this one is no exception. I loved the time traveling aspect of the story as well as Proto’s well-measured insights into sentience and awareness of self.

Proto comes into his own most wonderfully in this book. Watching as he becomes friend and mentor to Leaf is an awe-inspiring thing. I’m most definitely looking forward to Hoffman’s next book. While this is the last in his Orville Mouse series, I don’t doubt for one moment that Orville, Sophia, Proto and Leaf are out there looking for puzzles, finding fearsome monsters for Proto to delight over and indulging in snapberry pie and tasty little cakes. Those adventures don’t end, even if the series has drawn to a close. Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Sagacious Sapling is exciting, fast-paced and a lot of fun to read. It’s most highly recommended.

Grant Leishman

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 and his best friend (and maybe girlfriend?) Sophia Mouse embark on another adventure through space and time. On this occasion, they are accompanied by Orville's faithful companion, Proto, and the assistance of a rather unusual tree that 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 precursors 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 is an excellent read and I would definitely recommend it.

Deepak Menon

Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Sagacious Sapling by Tom Hoffman is a delightful new tale of the adventures of Orville Mouse, the chief protagonist, who is faced with a new challenge – the mystery surrounding a dream that ended with the words "Orville’s piercing scream ended abruptly with a splash and a gurgle.” After waking up, Orville heads to the bookstore to meet the well-informed Master Marlow and Amanda about a ring his father had found on Varmoran next to the wreckage of an old scout ship, which had suddenly started glowing orange. He realizes that his ring was identical to the one that the Shadow King had given to Aislin Mouse, who in turn had given it to his dear friend, Sophia. “Two identical rings, one from Varmoran and one from Elysian” could not have happened by accident. Amanda opens up new paths and questions. A chain of successive events deepens the mystery leading Orville, his robot dog Squeaky, and his ingenious friends, Proto and Sophia, to unimaginably complex scenarios one after the other. The reader will marvel at esoteric creatures, terms and references like the Calamitous Metaphonium Haven Project, Morsennium, the Great Thaumatarian Time Wave, an Automation and many more, evoking intense curiosity.

Author Tom Hoffman is adept at intertwining threads of fantasy, science fiction and magic into wonderful tapestries that generate incredible images of planets and extraordinary inhabitants in readers' minds as Orville and his little group flit between planets and different matter and antimatter universes. They discover their inner selves, dreams containing hidden messages, and a plethora of characters and episodes that enfold the reader in a web of conflicting scenarios in the present as well as in the past, which is only one of the numerous reasons that make this book an excellent read. The cover is very attractive while the flow of the story is continuous and merges nicely with the upcoming episodes in the book. There are so many unique characters that I will avoid mentioning them, but instead I urge the reader to discover these by themselves and be delighted. A memorable quote from the book is: “In life and in dreams, details are of the utmost importance.” A delightful science fiction magical fantasy. I look forward to more from this outstanding author.

Melinda Hills

Orville Wellington Mouse and his Eternal Best Friend, Sophia, are off on another exciting adventure in Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Sagacious Sapling by Tom Hoffman. Orville is surprised when he repeats a few moments in time one sleepy morning. Then it happens again at Pridie’s Bake Shop when he and Sophia observe a slow-moving distortion approaching them, sweeping them 15 minutes into the past, living out his strange dream of being thrown into a stew pot by a group of large purple birds in the Plane of Turris, then traveling 400,000 years into the past to prevent the Great Thaumatarian Time Wave that threatens the existence of most of the universe. Time travel, ancient technology and unique living creatures on different planets are all part of Orville and Sophia’s wonderful and frightening experience where they receive help from equally unexpected sources such as Leaf, a new friend the group makes at home in Muridaan Falls. Time travel has unusual side effects, though, so what will Orville and Sophia discover when they finally come home?

Another wonderful book from this author. I am thrilled at how well Tom Hoffman incorporates science and language skills into the story, as well as encouraging children to be accepting and kind to others. Fabulous descriptions, incredible adventure sequences, strong support for the values of a good education, and being a friend to others are only part of what makes Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Sagacious Sapling such a wonderful book. Tom Hoffman does a magnificent job in portraying the depth and breadth of science at work in the world around us, and constantly yet subtly encourages the acceptance of others that may be different. As Book 5 in the series, it would be a good idea to read the others first so that you have a complete understanding of the references that are made throughout this volume, but reading all of the Orville Wellington Mouse Adventure stories is certainly a great idea for plenty of reading fun.