Hope. That’s what the name of the Polish boat means, and it’s what Oliver Coggins needs. In fact, what all the Cogginses need. Diana Hendry’s Out of the Clouds is a sweet, traditional story, and we don’t get anywhere near enough of them.
Oliver lives with his family in the rambling, tower like house his father built for them before he took off with no explanation. Dizzy Perch as it is called, is some distance outside the village of Starwater, where Oliver goes shopping every week. He pops in for food, which he then cooks for his family, and to hopefully ask – every week – if there is any post. There never is.
Well, there are occasional parcels of library books for his Ma, to read or to use for home schooling lessons, never to be returned (which worries Oliver considerably). Despite having two siblings, a mother and a grandfather, Oliver is lonely, and he wants his father to return. He counts the days. It’s been over six months.
He tries to be all things to all his family, but you are left wondering what more they could be to him. [I think] he is about 11, which is too young to shop and cook and clean, while not being deemed old enough to know what his father is doing.
The family is charmingly sweet and eccentric, but you can’t help wishing for more normality for Oliver. Eventually he makes friends with the Polish boy from the boat Hope, and he also decides he must take the mystery of his father into his own hands.
Even if he’s not meant to.