A Dodo at Oxford
The unreliable account of a student and his pet dodo
Contents: Philip Pullman • John Mitchinson • Susie Dent • The Oxford Times and The Oxford Mail • Financial Times • Guardian • Sunday Express • The Times of India • Bangalore Mirror • Spectator • Literary Review • BBC Oxford (including Mark Thorton of Mostly Books) • The Bookseller • Waterstone's Book Quarterly • Bookdealer • Auckland Library review • Bertrams • Gardners
A Dodo at Oxford is a masterpiece ... a real Oxford book, in every sense, full of wit and fantasy, and properly anchored in a very real seventeenth-century world.
A Dodo at Oxford is a classic in the making. From the city that brought us the Cheshire Cat and the Mock Turtle comes a new mythic beast, the Oxford Student's indefatigable Dodo. Books of such wit, charm and scholarship are as rare as the eponymous beast at its centre. Savour it slowly, page by glorious page, and then buy it in truckloads for every booklover on your Christmas list.
John Mitchinson, co-author of The QI Book of General Ignorance
The pull of this book, like that of the dodo itself, is irresistible. As instructive as it is intriguing, it pulls you into its world and holds you there long after the story is told.
The Oxford Times ran a full page feature by Reg Little about the book on 19 August 2010, please click here. A version also appeared in The Oxford Mail on 21 August 2010, please click here. The photograph appeared on the front pages of both newspapers, shown here and here.
The Guardian featured it on 11 December 2010 in an article by Ian Sansom. In a list of the top three gift books of the season it was given third place, saying 'a spoof of a 17th-century student's diary of his pet dodo. For smart-alecks.' Please click here and here.
Marcus Berkmann's review in the 27 November 2010 issue of the Spectator can be seen here. It includes 'it's charming, and the writers' meticulous attention to detail makes it a book to be savoured, possibly with a large glass of something just after Christmas, while a 'funny' book you don't want glows usefully on an open fire.'
Blair Worden's review in the November 2010 issue of the Literary Review can be seen here. It includes 'A Dodo at Oxford is an amuse-bouche, an elaborately zany spoof. ... One for the Christmas stocking'.
BBC Oxford broadcast an interview with Michael Johnson on the Phil Mercer show on 8 September. A feature also appeared on their website on 16 September, shown here. On 29 September Jo Thoenes' afternoon show Bookclub included a six minute review by Mark Thorton of Mostly Books, Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Mark Thorton also added a piece on his blog (29 September) here, and wrote: Philip Atkins and Michael Johnson have produced that rare thing - a genuinely original book, and one with its heart and soul firmly in Oxford.
In a Profile called 'A Dodo for Christmas' in The Bookseller of 25 June 2010, the Books Editor, Alice O'Keeffe, wrote 'the dodo already has a strong literary association with Oxford due to Tenniel's famous illustrations for Alice in Wonderland. With A Dodo at Oxford, Atkins and Johnson have created another one.' You can read the Profile here.
I predict A Dodo at Oxford will be the surprise bestseller of this Christmas. Imagine discovering a diary depicting life in 17th-century Oxford in an Oxfam shop. Add to that the fact that the diary records the author keeping a pet dodo and you enter an Alice in Wonderland world. This "facsimile" of the life of the author and his feathered friend has hilarious footnotes and is exquisitely produced. Like all truly funny books it is grounded in wonderful detail. There is an excellent understated wit to it, with the intellect of George Perec and a large hint of Monty Python. Truly original, it defies description.
Selected by Patrick Neale, Bookseller's Choice: September
The Bookseller, 11 June 2010
A Dodo at Oxford by Philip Atkins and Michael Johnson faultlessly links history with humour in a facsimile account of a dodo living in Oxford in the 17th century. It's a triumph of small press publishing and deserves to be the stocking filler of choice for all book lovers.
Selected by Patrick Neale, Bookseller's Choice: Christmas 2010 Round-up
The Bookseller, 10 September 2010, shown here.
A photograph from the book launch showing Philip Pullman, Michael Johnson, and John Mitchinson appeared in The Bookseller, 24 September 2010, shown here.
... the extinct bird comes to life on the page in all its ungainly and absurd glory. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, A Dodo at Oxford is the enjoyable and insightful tale of Oxford, early student life and perhaps even what it was like to live with a dodo.
Reviewed in the Waterstone's Books Quarterly magazine, October 2010.
I ... thoroughly recommend it to anyone looking for a distinctly donnish treat to give as an early Christmas present.
Reviewed in the Bookdealer, October 2010.
In Auckland, New Zealand, the Manukau City Council Library website carries a specially featured five-star review by a member of staff, called lindalew, and which is shown here. The review includes 'I haven't read a book this amusing for a long time now, A Dodo at Oxford offers a hilarious and intriguing peek into an Oxford student's life from three hundred years ago. ... read this book solely for it's immense entertainment value.'
A Dodo at Oxford has been selected as a Bertrams September 2010 IBG (Independent Booksellers Group) title and also appears in their Christmas promotion. The Buyer's Notes concluded by saying 'Set to be a surprise bestseller' and gave a 4 star rating. Gardners have given it a 4 star rating.