Monday, March 19, 2007

Oddly Normal lunchtime

I have fifteen minutes of lunch hour remaining, enough time to load today's book image to this post and make a few introductory comments on Oddly Normal by Otis Frampton. My brain is still somewhat on spring break (pithy spring break post coming) and I thought taking a graphic novel to lunch would be an easier read. Not because graphic novels do not take time and/or effort to read, but because I wanted something different.

Oddly Normal is a ten year old girl, half witch and half human. Middle School is challenging enough for kids who are different, but as Oddly explains, "add a few oddities to the recipe, and you're in for special treatment." The book opens on the occasion of Oddly's birthday. Her parents, kindly described as self absorbed, are planning this year's birthday party. When the party begins and ends without any invited guests, Oddly voices a wish that almost any ten year old has at one time or another, "I wish you would both just disappear." She then learns the hard way the old saw about being careful what you wish when her parents, along with her house, disappear.

Oddly's aunt, arriving late for the party, is unable to undo the damage and determines she must take Oddly back with her to Fignation. In an ironic twist, Oddly learns she is no more normal in Fignation than in her regular school. She is not green, does not have warts, and has little or no power as a witch. Point of fact, she is as much an oddity now as before. Feeling her way through the school days, Oddly makes friends and overcomes several challenges put forth by other students looking for "extra credit." A clever anagram of her name, Droll Dynamo, leads Oddly and her friends to Mr. Gooseberry and new revelations concerning her parents. In this case, the end is not the end because the second volume of Oddly Normal is due out soon; check out the Oddly Normal Production Journal on Frampton's blog.

This is one of the few graphic novels for children I have read that really is for children. It is fun, full of color and imagination, and has a believable story line. Frampton nails the culture and language of middle school children; Oddly's droll sense of humor, irritation with her parents, and intrinsic need to have friends and belong are well done (not overdone). The illustrations and graphics are wonderful, especially Oddly's first view of Fignation. Various colors and hues are strategically present throughout the novel to designate mood (grey's, red's, and blue's) and the school scenes are priceless. Additionally, an "Oddly Normal History" is included at the end of the book for more information. All in all, I am ready for Oddly Normal: Family Reunion.

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