When Oliver Stoop’s father is promoted to president of his company, the Republic of Staplers, he decides the family must move to the country where they can have privacy and room enough to build his dream “castle”. At age eleven, Oliver does not mind leaving his friends and school behind; he still has his collection of The Chronicles of Odysseus Murgatroyd, Adventurer that he can read in his tent in the middle of their mobile home while construction gets under way.
Living in the middle of nowhere seems the ideal situation for Mr. Stoop’s plans, but Oliver is not so sure. He notices people in the nearby woods, and the Stoops quickly find themselves embroiled in a conflict with a clandestine group of settlers. They claim that they have a treaty, signed by Thomas Jefferson, granting them a small portion of the now State of Indiana for their Kingdom of Patria. The Patrians have maintained a lifestyle that resembles Medieval Europe, while integrating Native Americans and Vikings into their population. These diverse groups unite to expel the Stoop “invaders”, but not before Oliver endears himself to the royal family.
Oliver’s friends, Prince Farnsworth and Princess Rose Vesuvius, are a typical brother and sister pair whose sibling rivalry gets checked at the door when danger looms. Oliver proves himself to be a quick-witted, perceptive detective, always honest and loyal to warring family and friends alike. In Stout Hearts and Whizzing Biscuits and its sequel, Stoop of Mastodon Meadow, Daniel McInerny skillfully integrates tongue-in-cheek humor, rich vocabulary and fast-paced plots with historical and literary references. Readers with a basic knowledge of world history will have a hard time not laughing and rolling their eyes at the turn of every page.
Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher living in Ridgewood, NJ.