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The Emperor's Ostrich

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  277 ratings  ·  112 reviews
A classic madcap romp of a fantasy adventure from the author of The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place.

Young dairymaid Begonia has lost her cow, Alfalfa. So she has set off on a search across the countryside even though she has nothing but a magical map to guide her. Along the way she meets a mother and baby, a woodcutter, a very dirty young man, and an eight-foot
Hardcover, 276 pages
Published July 18th 2017 by Roaring Brook Press
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  277 ratings  ·  112 reviews

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Sara (sarawithoutanH)
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
This book was so much fun! I'm not normally a fan of middle grade but the writing was done in a way that didn't feel dumbed down. The story itself was magical and fun and I loved it. I would highly recommended to anyone who really likes Ella Enchanted.
Jan 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade, fantasy, own
Such a fun adventure story! Julie calls it her love letter to Lloyd Alexander, and it certainly reminded me of Alexander, but also of Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli films, and a little bit of The Nightingale (the only Hans Christian Anderson story I can tolerate).

But I did more than tolerate this: I loved it! I was really not expecting the twists and turns the story would take, or the fanciful characters, but I adored how they all came together in the end. This book has one of the best jailbreaks in
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Here it comes, my next little offering, for the young and the young at heart. I wrote this as a love letter to Lloyd Alexander. The idea emerged in a writing workshop conducted with elementary school students in Ashland, Massachusetts. I hope that you and they enjoy it. This middle grade adventure fantasy features a truly strange cast, but every one of them is dear to me. It's fun reading your reviews and thoughts so please do chime in.
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up thinking it was a graphic novel, which it wasn’t (but do you blame me? That cover screams graphic novel) but wow I am glad I did, because this was fun and absurd and hilarious. Did you watch Mulan and wish the ancestor spirits had a bigger role? Wish there were more Prince and the Pauper style books where a rich person learns to person? Think that what every book needs is a romance between a cow and an ostrich? DO I HAVE THE BOOK FOR YOU.
While this book and I had a shaky start, it wound up being entertaining in the way fairytales are entertaining to me. It's out of this world over the top magical whimsical and fun to read, though it takes a little time to really get going.
Chantele Sedgwick
I thought this was going to be super weird. Which it definitely was, but more in like a charming fairy tale kind of way. I really enjoyed the characters and how different the story was. I'll read anything Julie Berry writes. :)
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Emperor's Ostrich, by Julie Berry, is a whimsical adventure with humor and quirky, lovable characters. While its intended audience is middle-grade readers, it will also appeal to younger readers as well as adults who are young-at-heart. Set in the Empire of Camillion, it is a fun romp through both the castle and the English countryside, and is reminiscent of both fairy and folktales of yore. Even so, this story is also both contemporary and unique in its telling.

The adventure begins when th
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thanks to the #kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book - all opinions are my own.

This was an engaging, well-paced story that I really enjoyed. It starts off in the palace, where we meet the emperor's cupbearer's young second assistant, who is there to bring the emperor milk. The emperor, as it turns out, is a spoiled brat. By the end of the first chapter, both the emperor and an ostrich have gone missing (and we get the sense that something suspicious and/or magical is going on)
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
A gentle adventure with lots of droll humor as the ostrich falls in love with the cow, the immortal ancestors squabble, the emperor is a whiny brat, and poor besieged practical Begonia has to put up with a boy insistent on rescuing her.
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2017, middle
Much more "younger middle-grade" than Berry's usual - this is sweet and funny, if perhaps lacking some of her usual wit and richness. But still very enjoyable, and great for younger readers, or as a read-aloud!
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Super cute and fun with lots of laughs!
Wonderful, funny, classic Julie Berry writing.
Ron Frampton
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A book of magic and mayhem in this fantasy story.
Jul 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Fun and full of shenanigans
Rashika (is tired)
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
***This review has also been posted on Xpresso Reads

I feel like aesthetics for middle grade novels are fairly uncommon but The Emperor's Ostrich is so laugh-out loud hilarious and really just lends itself to aesthetics. It's got adventure, an unexpected romance (b/w a cow and an ostrich) & magic.

I believe that this book can best be described as The Princess Bride meets The Emperor's New Groove. What happens when a spoilt man-child is on the verge of getting control of an entire empire? W
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
This was a light-hearted adventure very much in the style of Lloyd Alexander. (If only more books were in his style!) Loved the characters, the adventure, the full menagerie of animals, the setting, the depth, and most of all Key's self-proclaimed epithets.
Apr 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So delightful. Love the different points of view and how all the stories come together. So playful and fun.
Sara Texas Girl Reads
Aug 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, middle-grade
Read my full review and more at!

In the empire of Camellion, a 21-year-old emperor reigns supreme. He is spoiled and bratty, and even has an official person who brings him warm milk every night. One night, he is kidnapped from his bed, flung onto an ostrich, and disappears. In the same empire, a young dairymaid named Begonia sets out to find her missing cow, Alfalfa. Along the way, Begonia crosses paths with the emperor (although she does not know he is the emperor), and a
I love Julie Berry's young adult fiction, especially her historical novels. the most recent being the amazing The Passion of Dolssa. From the jacket I thought The Emperor's Ostrich might be another historical, but was pleasantly transported to a whimsical land where an empathy deficient emperor is about to be crowned. Readers spy on two ghostly ancestors, one of whom decides to intervene. He realizes the dangerous consequences of a ruler locked inside a self-centered world. It has the potential ...more
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
The young emperor of Camellion is selfish, and spoiled. On the eve of his birthday - and just before the ceremony where he would receive all the power of the empire, he mysteriously disappears. Meanwhile, young milkmaid Begonia has set off on foot to find her cow, Alfalfa who has wandered off. She never seems to catch up - how fast is the cow travelling? But, she meets people along the way who help or hinder her search. A ragtag jack-of-all-trades, who calls himself Key insists that Begonia is a ...more
Lisa Brown
The Emperor is about to have his 22nd birthday, which means that the scepter will be passed to him, along with control of his empire. The problem is, the Emperor is a spoiled brat, who has no idea how to even put on his own shoes, let alone lead a country. It is then that his Ancestor spirits get involved, sending him on a journey that may just be the key to getting him on the right track. And to help him out, they send along a dairy maid, a cow, and a royal ostrich. It leads to a series of biza ...more
Charlie Dodge
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As a fan of folklore and fairytales since early childhood, The Emperor's Ostrich was a book that caught my eye and didn't disappoint. This book, featuring wacky characters from the faraway empire of Camellion, is reminiscent of all of my favorite childhood stories from fairytales to Roald Dahl. Julie Berry is also exceptional at creating strong young female characters. In The Emperor’s Ostrich, Begonia is an intelligent, caring, and quick-witted protagonist who many young girls will undoubtedly ...more
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It could be because I am partial to Lloyd Alexander (and this reminded me of his books in the best possible way), or it could be that I am partial to Julie Berry's books, and this one was another wonderful gift.

After hesitating to read this one--my to-read shelf was overflowing, and for some reason I was thinking this was a sequel though it isn't (crazy brain)--I couldn't put it down! I read it every chance I had. As a "responsible eldest" daughter, I very much identified with Begonia; the meddl
Becky H.
Funny story starts with a young girl named Begonia setting off to find her missing cow. Little does she know the adventure that awaits her. She receives some magical gifts along the way including a magical map, a long scarf, magical mustard and a few new friends friends. Things get a little crazy when Begonia's cow falls in love with an ostrich. Meanwhile, in another part of the kingdom the Emperor has gone missing along with one of his ostriches. Julie Berry does a great job bringing the charac ...more
Ames Public Library Youth Services
At the end, it turned out, I enjoyed this book! I picked it up because I was looking for a fairy tale/fantasy type book, read the first few chapters, and almost put it down. But I'm glad I didn't because it is age-appropriate, and it turned out to be a great book for precocious readers--and those seem to be in short supply! I appreciated how everyone ended up with their just deserts and that it was handled in either a loving or humorous way depending on the character, and I'd really like to see ...more
Molly McCall
Other reviewers have cited Lloyd Alexander and Miyazaki as influences over this clever, lightly magical adventure. I agree. They are like the ancestor spirits of the story, watching over the action with a bemused, exasperated, loving gaze. It's a 3-star book for me because I enjoyed it, but never felt the stab of excitement that would bump it up. I like Berry's Victorian murder mystery better. Having said that, this was thoroughly enjoyable.
Jennifer Heise
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lloyd Alexander meets Jessica Day George, with a side of ostrich. A spoilt Emperor is snatched from his palace, along with an ostrich, due to the disapproval of an ancestor spirit. Another ancestor spirit sends a cow-- or maybe the overly responsible girl looking after the cow-- to help him. And a Romantic boy called Key inserts himself into the story. What will happen next? A good grade school fantasy.
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Berry, Julie The Emperor’s Ostrich, 276 pgs. Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan) 2017. $16.99. Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.

The young emperor of Camellion is selfish, and spoiled. On the eve of his birthday - and just before the ceremony where he would receive all the power of the empire, he mysteriously disappears. Meanwhile, young milkmaid Begonia has set off on foot to find her cow, Alfalfa who has wandered off. She never seems to catch up - how fast is the cow t
Teresa Osgood
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love Julie Berry's books. They're all so different, but wonderful. An emperor and an ostrich, a milkmaid and a really fast cow, and a determined hero wanna-be are thrust together by a couple of meddling ancestors. Frustrating and beautifully-described adventures ensue. I can't describe the story, but it is fun and tense and inspiring, all at the same time.
Teresa Edmunds
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Lumi is selfish, rude, egotistical, and pampered...and he's about to become The Emperor. His ancestors don't like it one bit. Grandfather Spirit decides to teach him a lesson. With the help of a romantic cow, a hard-working milkmaid, a scrubby boy, and a protective ostrich, Lumi just might become the leader the country needs. Though the start of the story was a bit slow and a bit heavy on the similes, it turned out to be very enjoyable. There are plenty of unusual and entertaining characters to ...more
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