Tom Hoffman’s Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Last Metaphonium was a joy to read. Hoffman opens with a dream sequence that sets the stage for Orville and his friends', Sophia and Proto, next adventure. Orville and Sophia are members of the Metaphysical Adventurers and when a beautiful ghost asks for their help the friends start investigating, along with the robot sidekick, Proto. They travel to a synthetic world called Elysian, by way of a mystical Metaphonium. They encounter many interesting people along the way as they try to understand the changeable environment of Elysian. They are joined on their quest by Brother Solus, the last of the Mintarian Gray Monks, who has no memory of how he arrived in Elysian and seems a mystery in his own right. Together they journey across vast oceans, through putrid swamps, through massive forests, and past an insurmountable wall to reach the beautiful ghost and in so doing, solve the puzzle of the Metaphonium.
Tom Hoffman has written a great adventure. His characters are fully developed and endearing, with all their individual quirks and traits. Hoffman writes to a youthful audience (3rd-5th grade), and he writes with intelligence, drawing his readers forward, rather than relying on gimmicks so often employed for this age group. Hoffman offers a larger world to his readers, an expansion of their understanding of the possibilities. His word choices are precise and often chosen to increase his readers vocabulary, by introducing a complex word then developing the scene to provide context. Orville and his friends have to work as a team to solve the puzzle, each member of their party brought something unique to the table, and none of them could have done it alone. Orville Mouse and the Puzzle of the Last Metaphonium has everything a young reader will enjoy, humor, great action sequences, believable dialogue, fantastic friendships, and a powerful message about facing our fears. This book was nicely done, Mr. Hoffman.