The Wonderful O - James Thurber, Marc Simont I came across this book looking for something to get my niece Hailey for her birthday. The story is reminiscent of Mark Dunn's Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters, which also explores issues of hope, love, valor and freedom. Pirates invade the island of Ooroo looking for lost treasure. Their leader, the man named Black, loathes the letter "O" because his mother had suffered a terrible mishap involving a porthole so he outlaws any word containing it (which allows Thurber to get away with all sorts of linguistic fun such as poor Otto Ott and Ophelia Oliver: A man named Otto Ott, when asked his name, could only stutter. Ophelia Oliver repeated hers, and vanished from the haunts of men. (p. 26)

The islanders are flummoxed for a while as they try to rediscover the four qualities listed above - hope, love, valor and (the most important) freedom - but, when they do, they rise up under Andreus and Andrea and drive Black and his cronies from the island.

It's a very short read (72 pages in my edition) but great fun, and the 8-year-old you're reading to doesn't need to understand Thurber's deeper themes to enjoy the adventure.