The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester

Barbara O'Connor

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

An amazing secret has tumbled off a freight train into Carter, Georgia, and Owen Jester is the only person who knows about it. If he can simply manage to evade his grandfather’s snappish housekeeper, organize his two best friends, and keep his nosy neighbor, Viola, at bay, he just might be in for the summer of a lifetime. With her trademark wit and easy charm, Barbara O’Connor spins a fantastic fable of friends, enemies, and superbly slimy bullfrogs.



  • The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester

    When Owen shares his secret with his two best friends and one nosey neighbor, they have a summer they'll never forget.



Praise for The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester



School Library Journal Best Children’s Books of 2010

Kirkus Reviews 2010 Best Books for Children


“O’Connor has perfect pitch with this comic adventure, which ends with a happy resolution everyone, even the frog, can live with.” --New York Times Book Review


"O’Connor masterfully twists the two plot threads—Owen’s gradual realization that Tooley must be released, and the children’s Fitzcarraldo-like mission to move the submarine through brush to pond—into a fully convincing tale pitched perfectly to the upper elementary grades.” --BCCB, STARRED review


“This well-crafted novel creates a charming mix of the commonplace and the extraordinary…Appealing and authentic, this tale of summertime adventure will be a hit with readers year round.”--School Library Journal, STARRED review

“O'Connor has spun a lovely read that perfectly captures the schemes and plans of school-age kids in the long days of summer.” --Kirkus Reviews, STARRED review

“With a quiet sensitivity, O’Connor explores the effects of unemployment and relocating and the joys of both longtime companions and new, unexpected friendships. Filled with charm and wonder, this finely crafted novel reminds readers of the mysteries to be found in childhood and the outdoors.” --BookPage

“…the story is smoothly written, the secret is ingenious and believable, and who can resist a frog named Tooley Graham?” --Booklist


“O'Connor's funny, triumphant tale reveals the wisdom of listening to one's inner voice over the noise of one's peers.” --Publishers Weekly


School Library Journal Best Books of the Year 2009

Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year 2009

New York Public Library’s 100 Best Books for Reading and Sharing; 2009

"Elvis and Popeye’s journey reminds readers to look for and enjoy the small treasures in their lives. Save a spot on your shelves for this small adventure with a grand heart."—School Library Journal, starred review

“With humor and authenticity, this beguiling tale of summer friendship mines the small, jewel like adventures of a rural childhood.” Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Fast-paced, short and easy to read . . . and abounding with quirky, likable characters, this small gem has the power to keep readers entranced." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

In the Press

THE FANTASTIC SECRET OF OWEN JESTER by Barbara O'ConnorKirkus Book Reviews
Read the Kirkus Review of THE FANTASTIC SECRET OF OWEN JESTER . "The short, sad life of Tooley Graham was over," doesn't sound like a happy conclusion but is pitch perfect in this short, simple and endearing middle-grade novel that follows on the heels of The Small Adeventure of Popeye and Elvis (2009).
- Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Barbara O'Connor

  • Barbara O’Connor is the author of numerous acclaimed books for children, including Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia; Me and Rupert Goody; Greetings from Nowhere and How to Steal a Dog. She has been awarded the Parents’ Choice Gold and Silver Awards, the Massachusetts Book Award, and the Dolly Gray Award, among many honors. As a child, she loved dogs, salamanders, tap dancing, school, and even homework. Her favorite days were when the bookmobile came to town. She was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, and now lives in Duxbury, Massachusetts, a historic seaside village not far from Plymouth Rock.
  • Barbara O'Connor Photo by Bill O'Connor
    Barbara O'Connor



Teacher's Guide


Available Formats and Book Details

The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester

Barbara O'Connor

NYPL Book for Reading and Sharing, American Library Association Notable Children's Books, Capitol Choices Noteworthy Titles for Children and Teens, Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award Master List, Kansas City KC3 Reading Award Master List, Texas Horn Toad Tales Master List, Maryland Children's Book Award Master List, GA Picture Storybook Award ML, Tennessee Intermediate Volunteer State Book Award Master Lis, Louisiana YR Choice Book Award Master List, Maine Student Book Award Master List, Kentucky Blue Grass Award Master List, Nebraska Golden Sower Award Master List, West Virginia Children's Book Award Master List, Virginia Young Readers Award Master List, Oklahoma Sequoyah Young Adult Book Award Master List, Florida Sunshine State Young Readers Award Master List, South Carolina Children's Book Award Master List, Massachussetts Book Award - Honor Book, New Hampshire Great Stone Face Award Master List, Junior Library Guild Selection


Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)