The Ogress and the Orphans (Hardcover)

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The Ogress and the Orphans By Kelly Barnhill Cover Image
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(childrens fantasy)

Staff Reviews

Kelly Barnhill is an award-winning author of children’s chapter books. In 2017 she won the prestigious Newbery Award with The Girl Who Drank the Moon. She’s back with a new book, The Ogress and the Orphans. It looks to be an instant children’s fantasy classic. And it’s one that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

The Ogress and the Orphans would make a great bedtime story for 6-9 year olds. It’s got dragons and villagers and bad guys and good guys and trouble and adventure and fire and castles and crows and a blind dog.  And, of course, it’s got an ogress and 15 beloved orphans. Something for everyone! On the simplest level it’s a well-written, captivating story to be enjoyed by the listener and the reader. 

The target audience for The Ogress and the Orphans is the middle grades reader. There’s just so much to celebrate here. There are themes to dig into like community, empathy, and autonomy. And Barnhill’s exquisite use of language and imagery is something that will draw the young reader into the world of Stone-in-the-Glen. It’s children’s literature at its best.  “A story, in the mind of a reader, is like music. And discussing stories among other minds and other hearts feels like a symphony.” Isn’t that great language for young readers? 

Even though not intended for the adult reader, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it wholeheartedly. Barnhill’s prose is vibrant and thought provoking. The Ogress and the Orphans  has so many layers. It’s an allegory for the human experience and the dangers we face if we abandon love and generosity. “It only takes some people doing good to encourage many people to do good….It is the best sort of magic.”

Our story begins and ends in the village of Stone-in-the-Glen. It’s a happy community full of beauty, culture, and friendly citizens.The local orphanage has 15 young residents and is cheerfully supported by village resources. Then, one awful day, the library mysteriously burns to the ground. “Books flew out the melting windows like panicked birds, their wings bright and phosphorescent.”

The fire at the library is followed by disaster after disaster. Each new trial drives

the citizens further apart. Soon the common areas are empty, the residents wary and hesitant to engage. Using the scarcity of food and resources as an excuse the village stops supporting the orphanage. Matron and Myron do the best they can for the orphans but it’s a hand-to-mouth existence.

Into this depressed and depressing scenario enters The Mayor. He is golden. He is dynamic. He is charismatic. He says what the people want to hear. He delights in the discord as he taxes the poor villagers to fill his coffers.

 Another newcomer to Stone-in-the-Glen is The Ogress. Because of her appearance and past experiences with humans she is shy and builds her home on the outskirts of the village. Although she has her crow friends, she longs for human interaction. Through her telescope she watches the villagers and sees their troubles; she responds with compassion and generosity. She bakes. And gardens. And makes art. On any given morning a villager may find a plate of cakes or a box of vegetables or a beautifully drawn picture on their doorstep. These anonymous gifts help keep the orphans from the brink of starvation.

When one of the orphans runs away in order to leave more for the others left behind, The Ogress finds her unconscious in the forest. She nurses Cass back to health and returns her to the Matron and Myron. In the meantime, The Mayor foments discontent: he stirs the villagers into hating The Ogress and incites them to violence against her. Even though the children try to tell the adults that The Ogress is their benefactor and a great help to the village, no one believes them. “What’s the use of truth when people refuse to believe verifiable facts?”

But-not to worry! Truth does prevail. The power of love and generosity is restored. The Mayor is unmasked, The Ogress is welcomed, and Stone-in-the-Glen is once again a village of caring citizens. Kelly Barnhill’s new novel is a moving story of empathy and community. Above all, it asks the question: What is a neighbor? It’s a question worth examining.  

— Luanne Clark

March/April 2022 Kids Indie Next List

“Listen. This is a terrific story by a master storyteller. The Ogress and the Orphans is a fable about solidarity and warns against cultural fragmentation, featuring children who are — like most kids — smarter than the adults around them.”
— Timothy Otte, Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, MN


A new instant-classic fantasy about the power of generosity and love, and how a community suffers when they disappear, by Kelly Barnhill, winner of the Newbery Medal for The Girl Who Drank the Moon, a New York Times bestseller.
Stone-in-the-Glen, once a lovely town, has fallen on hard times. Fires, floods, and other calamities have caused the people to lose their library, their school, their park, and even their neighborliness. The people put their faith in the Mayor, a dazzling fellow who promises he alone can help. After all, he is a famous dragon slayer. (At least, no one has seen a dragon in his presence.) Only the clever children of the Orphan House and the kindly Ogress at the edge of town can see how dire the town’s problems are.

Then one day a child goes missing from the Orphan House. At the Mayor’s suggestion, all eyes turn to the Ogress. The Orphans know this can’t be: the Ogress, along with a flock of excellent crows, secretly delivers gifts to the people of Stone-in-the-Glen.

But how can the Orphans tell the story of the Ogress’s goodness to people who refuse to listen? And how can they make their deluded neighbors see the real villain in their midst?


About the Author

Kelly Barnhill lives in Minnesota with her husband and three children. She is the author of four novels, most recently The Girl Who Drank the Moon, winner of the 2017 John Newbery Medal. She is also the winner of the World Fantasy Award and has been a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, a Nebula Award, and the PEN/USA literary prize. Visit her online at or on Twitter: @kellybarnhill.

Praise For…

“An exquisite fantasy tale …  Whether you’ve been counting the months, weeks and days or are brand-new to Barnhill’s sharp, word-perfect prose and classical yet fresh storytelling, you’re going to love this standalone fantasy.
BookPage, “2022 Preview: Most Anticipated Children’s Books”

“As exquisite as it is moving.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“The reader is immediately tossed into this fantasy … The Mayor is a fantastic (though loathsome) villain, oozing charisma and evil in equal measures … . It is fortunate that her tinkering with fairy tales and fables helped open a path to this novel that champions kindness in a very dark world.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)

“Barnhill’s gift for storytelling immediately draws readers into this character-driven tale where dragons lurk, crows prove great friends, and an unusual narrator relays events with a unique perspective. These fairy-tale trappings cloak modern lessons and timeless ideals that readers will do well to take to heart, no matter their age.”
—Booklist (starred review)

“Newbery Medalist Barnhill incorporates ancient stories, crow linguistics, and a history of dragonkind into an ambitious, fantastical sociopolitical allegory that asks keen questions about the nature of time, the import of community care, and what makes a neighbor.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A delightful tale with dragons, ogres, and orphans that is sure to have readers turning pages to see what happens next. … Characters from the town of Stone in the Glen are well developed and engaging. … Well written and engaging, this title is sure to please readers of all ages as it teaches valuable lessons on acceptance.”
—Youth Services Book Review

“Readers of all ages will love it. 5/5 stars.”
YA Books Central

Praise for The Girl Who Drank the Moon:

2017 Newbery Medal Winner
New York Times Bestseller
A New York Public Library Best Book of 2016
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2016

“Impossible to put down . . . The Girl Who Drank the Moon is as exciting and layered as classics like Peter Pan or TheWizard of Oz.”
The New York Times Book Review
“A gorgeously written fantasy about a girl who becomes “enmagicked” after the witch who saves her from death feeds her moonlight.”
“With compelling, beautiful prose, Kelly Barnhill spins the enchanting tale of a kindly witch who accidentally gives a normal baby magic powers, then decides to raise her as her own.”
—, The Best Middle-Grade Books of 2016
“Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick . . . Replete with traditional motifs, this nontraditional fairy tale boasts sinister and endearing characters, magical elements, strong storytelling, and unleashed forces.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Rich with multiple plotlines that culminate in a suspenseful climax, characters of inspiring integrity, a world with elements of both whimsy and treachery, and prose that melds into poetry. A sure bet for anyone who enjoys a truly fantastic story.”
Booklist, starred review
“An expertly woven and enchanting offering.”
School Library Journal, starred review
“Barnhill crafts another captivating fantasy, this time in the vein of Into the Woods . . . Barnhill delivers an escalating plot filled with foreshadowing, well-developed characters, and a fully realized setting, all highlighting her lyrical storytelling.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

Product Details
ISBN: 9781643750743
ISBN-10: 1643750747
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: March 8th, 2022
Pages: 400
Language: English