When Kip arrives for a summer visit with his grandmother and five cousins in British Columbia, he learns that her ramshackle house is to be demolished. This means unfettered fun for Kip and his cousins as they explore every inch of the place. There, Kip finds something unexpected — an old binder kept by his dead father as a boy. It’s a strange scrapbook filled with puzzling lists, newspaper clippings, business cards, hair samples, and intricate drawings — all accompanying a confidential report written by a ...
When Kip arrives for a summer visit with his grandmother and five cousins in British Columbia, he learns that her ramshackle house is to be demolished. This means unfettered fun for Kip and his cousins as they explore every inch of the place. There, Kip finds something unexpected — an old binder kept by his dead father as a boy. It’s a strange scrapbook filled with puzzling lists, newspaper clippings, business cards, hair samples, and intricate drawings — all accompanying a confidential report written by a mysterious young operative with a secret plan to infect teenagers with a cell-altering virus. Kip is both intrigued and alarmed as the fantastic tale offers a window into his father's unsettling imagination. When his cousins start making plans for Talent Night, Kip panics — then remembers the story in the binder. Can he handle what it will reveal about his father? This highly praised novel has Sarah Ellis' trademark quirkiness, humor, and insight. As well as exploring the themes of family, Odd Man Out features intriguing notions about memory and stories, how writers get their ideas, how real and imaginary lives are interwoven, and how the writing life can provide both escape and ballast.
When his mother remarries and heads off on her honeymoon, Kip is sent to stay the summer with his grandmother, who is also hosting five of his girl cousins. Finding himself ensconced among very eccentric girls, Kip struggles to find his place. When Kip discovers a binder made by his late father when he was a teenager, things begin to change as he becomes entranced by its story of a mysterious young operative who is recruited to carry out a secret plan to stop a nefarious plot to infect all teenagers with a cell-altering virus. Illustrated with detailed hand-drawn pictures, old newspaper clippings, business cards, and other oddities, the binder's tale prompts Kip to discover the long-held secret of his father's mental illness. While revealing secrets, Kip's experience also leads him on a journey of discovery about himself and connects him to his cousins, his grandmother, and his new stepfather. Ellis, an award-winning Canadian author, offers an insightful character study in this novel. Kip is a sharp character who will connect with many readers. The eccentric supporting cast offers a good counterpoint to Kip, who is always the novel's main focus. Often, however, readers are left getting only Kip's point of view, leaving the others nearly undeveloped. The novel's surreal tone makes some portions of the text confusing, but the themes of growing up, accepting change, and finding out where one belongs make it a universally appealing work that teens will enjoy if led to it.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Twelve-year-old Kip is spending the summer with his grandmother and his five cousins, all of whom are full of enthusiasm, action, and talk. His mother has just remarried and he is not sure what life will be like when the newlyweds get back from Hawaii. Gran's seaside home is like nowhere else. The house has been sold and will be demolished soon so Kip and the girls are free to write on the walls, paint them, and bash them with sledgehammers if they wish, and the cousins do so with gusto. The onslaught of the girls takes a while to adjust to, but Kip has the attic bedroom as his retreat. There he finds his deceased father's adolescent journal, a notebook filled with a story of espionage, secret plots, and a boy called the "Operative." Kip feels an instant connection to this story and comes to see that Tristan was the same sort of kid that he is. But this image is shattered when Kip learns that his father suffered from paranoia and delusions and that the journal was the record of life as he saw it, not a story he was writing. This is a thoughtful and often funny book of a boy on the verge of adolescence challenged to think-of his father, mother, cousins, life-in a different way. Kip must find his place in his immediate and extended family, and this summer is the first step. Give this rich novel to readers who enjoyed Hillary McKay's Casson family quartet and The Exiles series (both S & S).-Terrie Dorio, Santa Monica Public Library, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Sarah Ellis is one of Canada’s most loved writers of children’s fiction. A part-time librarian, she is a highly sought-after children’s book reviewer, literary jury member and speaker who lectures internationally on Canadian children’s books. She is the winner of the Governor General’s Award (Pick-Up Sticks), the Mr. Christie Award (The Several Lives of Orphan Jack and Out of the Blue), the Sheila Egoff Award (The Baby Project and Back of Beyond) and the Vicky Metcalf Award for a Body of Work.