Sunday, December 22, 2013

Odd, Weird, & Little is Odd and Weird

Premise: Toulouse is a new student, just arrived from Canada. And he is weird. He wears an old-timey suit, carries a briefcase, and writes with a quill pen. Woodrow is glad that someone weirder than him has joined their class, but he can't decide if he should be friends with Toulouse or not. If they're friends, the bullying will get worse. If not, the bullies may focus on Toulouse instead of him.

Title: Odd, Weird, & Little
Author: Patrick Jennings
Length: 160 pages
Series or Stand-Alone: Stand-alone
Content appropriate for: Grades 3-5
Format: Digital ARC thanks to Egmont USA and, Publication date January 28, 2014

Three adjectives that describe this book: strange, disappointing, fanciful

I think I may be in the minority in my views of Odd. Weird, & Little. The reviews that I've read gush on about how wonderful it is to read a book about being yourself, even when faced with bullies.

I mean sure, that stuff is in there. But here's the thing. The main character is an owl. An owl. And nobody realizes it until the end. They keep wondering - how did he get up in that tree? Why can he turn his head around so far? Why are his eyes so large? I mean - Come on!

So sure - these kids are dealing with bullies. And they end up staying strong. And the bullies don't win. But these characters are frustratingly idiotic. This story might have worked better if Patrick Jennings hadn't revealed Toulouse's Owl Identity on the cover so plainly. If the reader was forced to wonder the same things as the other characters, and the realization of his Owl Identity happened in sync with the characters, but alas -- the reader knows more than the characters, and that makes this book hard to enjoy.

One strength of this book, though, is that it's the only book I've ever read that accurately captures life in a modern elementary classroom. The class does SSR, Writer's Workshop, and Read Aloud. These elements might really connect with an elementary reader. Patrick Jennings must have a line on what elementary school is really like.

Still, this book is exceptionally strange, and I really hate it that the characters take 160 pages to figure out what the reader has known all along.
2 stars

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