Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Odd, Weird & Little by Patrick Jennings - OPTIONAL

Jennings, Patrick.  Odd, Weird & Little  160 pages. Egmont USA, 2014. $15. Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (school bullying).

From the publisher: "When the new kid joins his class, Woodrow agrees with his schoolmates - Toulouse is really weird. He's short - kindergarten short - dresses in a suit like a grandpa, has huge eyes and barely says a word. But Woodrow isn't exactly Mr. Popularity. The frequent target of the class bully himself, he figures that maybe all Toulouse needs is a chance. When the two are put together in gym to play volleyball, they make quite the team. Toulouse can serve, set, and spike like a pro. He really knows how to fly around the court. But when the attention and teasing switch back to Woodrow, he learns that the new kid is great at something else: being a friend."
     I would have rated this book advisable except for the touch of fantasy at the end, which is alluded to by the title, cover art, and chapter titles, but which no one in the story seems to be able to figure out. The descriptions of school life and interactions between the students are delightfully true-to-life, but everyone, including you, knows how this book ends, and the surrealism of it jars with the great realistic fiction preceding it. Despite this, I think many students will enjoy the tale. Try reading the first chapter aloud without showing students the cover or even the title, and let them think about who (or what) Toulouse might be.
 EL - OPTIONAL    Reviewed by P.K. Foster, teacher-librarian

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