Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Book Review, Oddball

Oddball Book ReviewMany children struggle with reading. Some are reluctant to read; others attain reading readiness later than their peers. For these kids, novels must grab their attention and keep it, with a fast-paced story they can relate to.

Oddball, by Janeen Brian, is just such a book. Published by Walker Books Australia in 2008, it's part of a series called Lightning Strikes, designed to support and motivate those kids who've somehow missed out on the joy of reading. The cover is eye-catching, and the format very cleverly designed with lots of white space and larger print. I think boys in particular will love Oddball.

"It was the worst Monday morning ever." Sol Tranter's beloved dog has just died, his mum insists he must get his Afro hair cut, and he somehow finds himself challenging the school bully and sporting hero to a game of handball. And promising to win by using hypnosis! Is there anything at all Sol can do to get out of this mess?

Sol's voice is so authentic, it's as if he's perched on the kitchen table relating his tale between eager bites of Vegemite sandwich. Janeen Brian definitely understands boys - she puts the reader right inside Sol's bushy head, so we feel what he feels, and see the world through his eyes. We're impelled to race to the next page to find out what happens.

Oddball is a great choice for kids who like realistic stories they can relate to. I believe children in senior primary or early high school classes would enjoy following up questions like "Have you ever made a problem for yourself through something you said?" "Do people really do strange things when they're hypnotised?" "How does hypnosis work?" and "How did things change for Sol in the story?" The book would make a great model for children writing a narrative centred around a problem to be solved.

9 comments:

  1. Sheryl Gwyther27 January, 2009

    Really enjoyed this review of 'Oddball' - you hit the proverbial nail! Janeen is a treasure of a writer. :)

    Recent blog post: Grug - a little miracle worker.

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  2. Sounds like another good one.

    P.S. I'm about halfway through "Don't Call Me Ishmael" and I love it!

    Recent blog post: Getting Picture Book Ideas from Kids

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  3. Hi Sheryl! Thanks for visiting. I loved your post about Grug!

    Recent blog post: Book Review, Oddball

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  4. I love it when my friends enjoy books I recommend, Corey!

    Recent blog post: Book Review, Oddball

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  5. shelli wells28 January, 2009

    Poor Sol! thanks for coming to my blog :) hope to see you again.

    Recent blog post: Marvelous Marketers - Martha Mihalick (Greenwillow Books)

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  6. Sol is a survivor, thank goodness, but the ending isn't cliched.

    Recent blog post: Book Review, Oddball

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  7. This is such an appropriate subject for a story because kids are so scrutinized by their peers and so vulnerable to their judgement. Exposing them to the idea that they are not alone through reading is a great idea. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Recent blog post: Hands Off Parenting

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  8. Thanks much for the warm Kidlitosphere welcome. I look forward to reading more of your reviews & posts!

    Recent blog post: It's Newbery Day, 2009

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  9. Thanks Phredude and Lisa!

    Recent blog post: Book Review, Oddball

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