Odder Than Ever

Odder Than Ever

3.4 5
by Bruce Coville

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Beloved for his hilarious and unexpectedly moving novels, Bruce Coville is also a master of the short story. In this follow-up to Oddly Enough, he again presents a collection of unusual breadth and emotional depth. A ghost who died under uproarious circumstances haunts a kitchen baking “Biscuits of Glory,” while in the grand tale “The


Beloved for his hilarious and unexpectedly moving novels, Bruce Coville is also a master of the short story. In this follow-up to Oddly Enough, he again presents a collection of unusual breadth and emotional depth. A ghost who died under uproarious circumstances haunts a kitchen baking “Biscuits of Glory,” while in the grand tale “The Golden Sail,” there are unexpected consequences when a young teen goes in search of his seafaring father. The collection includes a heartbreaking new story from Mr. Elives’ Magic Shop, “The Metamorphosis of Justin Jones,” and the bittersweet title story from the critically acclaimed anthology Am I Blue? A perfect introduction to Bruce Coville’s magic for the uninitiated, Odder Than Ever also has a treat for his die-hard fans: three never-before-published stories.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Gisela Jernigan
In the 1880s, a band of Warm Springs Apache, led by Victorio, resisted the US Army in an attempt to live on their own land, in their own way. One of the individuals of this group, whose life was risked and forever changed by this struggle, was a strong, resolute teenage girl named Walks Alone. Having experienced the coming of age ceremony that marked her entrance into womanhood, Walks Alone is eager to marry young Little Hawk and begin her new life. Unfortunately, as the novel progresses, she meets many obstacles including attacks on her people, the murder of her mother, hunger, thirst, gunshot wounds, separation from her band and family and finally, capture. The simple, but effective language and fast-paced, exciting plot should make this well researched historical novel appeal to reluctant young adults and readers of both sexes. An epilogue giving some historical background and a bibliography are included. The author does a good job of presenting this piece of Southwest history from the Apache point of view.
Children's Literature - Lori M. Saporosa
True fans of Bruce Coville's writing style and unique subject matter will be delighted in his latest creation. This book is a collection of nine short stories with characters that range from ghosts to giants to fairy godfathers. As a sequel to his book Oddly Enough he continues with thought-provoking stories and messages. This book will be attractive to a wide audience of readers because he chooses main characters in each story that vary in gender, race, and age. In "The Metamorphosis of Justin Jones" the reader is drawn into a child's dysfunctional environment as he struggles to make a difficult choice. In a plot similar to the African folktale, "The People Who Could Fly," Justin proves much wiser and nobler than many adults. Overall, in this reader's opinion just about everyone will enjoy at least one of these charming short stories from Bruce Coville.
VOYA - Hillary Theyer
"Walks Alone" is a young Apache woman whose tribe is on the run from soldiers in 1879. When an attack leaves her and her little brother on their own, Walks Alone sets out to find the rest of her family in Mexico. She then encounters a pregnant woman from a different tribe, and in assisting her is captured and held by soldiers in an open pen until her brother dies. Walks Alone escapes and her quest finally leads her to Mexico, where she is reunited with the young warrior she loves. Her peace does not last long, however, as her tribe is again attacked in a fierce battle. The novel ends with Walks Alone as a captive, but still displaying the true bravery that guided her and her people through all their adversity.

This is a powerful novel with a heroine of enduring spirit, like Karana in Scott O'Dell's Island of the Blue Dolphins (Houghton Mifflin, 1960). Even the secondary characters-Walks Alone's brother, grandmother, and other family members-are fully drawn, and the reader feels their place in Walks Alone's life and in defining who she is. No punches are pulled in describing the violence and hardships suffered, but the characters maintain their integrity throughout, never falling into expected stereotypes.

VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Broad general YA appeal, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8).

To quote KLIATT's July 1999 review of the hardcover edition: This follow-up to Oddly Enough contains nine fantasy tales, three never before published. "The Golden Sail" is a classic, moving fable about a teen who sails off on a magical ship in search of his father. "The Giant's Tooth" is about a young man who lives in a community housed inside a giant's mouth, while in "The Stinky Princess" the title character turns her back on her community to live with a smelly goblin. The other stories were published in various collections. They include the creepy tale "There's Nothing Under the Bed"; a variation on The Picture of Dorian Gray entitled "The Japanese Mirror"; and the clever "Am I Blue?" about coming to terms with homosexuality—what if everyone gay was outed by suddenly having blue skin? This will be a treat for fantasy fans. The stories are all imaginative and well told, often humorous but also affecting and thought provoking. A good choice for reluctant readers. Coville provides a note at the end giving some background on the writing of these stories. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 1999, Harcourt, 168p, 18cm, 98-51102, $6.00. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick; November 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 6)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8Harsh and sometimes brutal, Walks Alone follows its Apache heroine through a series of difficult situations. The book begins with a raid carried out by Apache scouting for the U.S. government, in which Walks Alone's mother is killed, and ends with the girl's capture, along with other members of Victorio's band, by the Mexican army in 1880. Along the way, she endures privation and injury with fortitude and skill, and without complaint, ably caring for her young brother and a teenage widow with an infant daughter. Apache customs, skills, and religion are seamlessly worked into the text, and the tale's point of view is solely Apache. While this provides an enlightening antidote to various "Anglo"-centric tales of the frontier, it also creates a novel in which there are no "good" Anglos or Mexicans, and no "bad" Apache, except for those in the employ of the "White Eyes." Burks's writing style, both lean and formal, may put off some readers, but it also gives a valuable sense of distance from the grimness of the events, thereby helping to prevent youngsters from feeling overwhelmed by Walks Alone's tragedy. The girl's determination is also a key leavening. An interesting and useful, as well as counterbalancing, book to set alongside G. Clifton Wisler's many novels of the frontier and John Loveday's Goodbye, Buffalo Sky (McElderry, 1997).Coop Renner, Coldwell Elementary-Intermediate School, El Paso, TX
Kirkus Reviews
From Burks (Soldier Boy, 1997, etc.), a brutally effective portrayal of the realities of the destruction of Native American culture. The Warm Springs Apaches, led by Chief Victorio, are refusing to go to the barren reservation set aside for them when they are attacked by "White Eye" soldiers. Walks Alone, a teenage girl, is wounded and separated from the remnants of her people, who are fleeing to Mexico. With her very young brother she is taken in by another band, which is rounded up and imprisoned by the White Eyes. When she attempts to get medicine to save her sick brother, she is beaten, and her brother dies. She finally catches up with her people, but they are attacked again, the men massacred, and the women and children enslaved. Based on the historical events leading up to the Battle of Tres Castillos, this is an unremitting tale of the misery inflicted on Native Americans. Burks, as in the past, pulls no punches, so there is no possibility of a happy ending as Walks Alone is marched off to enslavement; the hopelessness of the ending matches that of her people. Since the story is wholly told through Walks Alone's perspective, the actions of others against her and her people are not only vicious, but utterly bewildering to her as well. (map, bibliography) (Fiction. 11-14)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.50(w) x 7.00(h) x (d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

BRUCE COVILLE is the author of over 100 books for children and young adults, including the international bestseller My Teacher is an Alien, the Unicorn Chronicles series, and the much-beloved Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher. His work has appeared in a dozen languages and won children's choice awards in a dozen states. Before becoming a full time writer Bruce was a teacher, a toymaker, a magazine editor, a gravedigger, and a cookware salesman. He is also the creator of Full Cast Audio, an audiobook company devoted to producing full cast, unabridged recordings of material for family listening and has produced over a hundred audiobooks, directing and/or acting in most of them. Bruce lives in Syracuse, New York, with his wife, illustrator and author Katherine Coville. Visit his website at www.brucecoville.com.

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Odder Than Ever 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a member of a powerhouse speech and debate team, I am constantly looking for good pieces of literature for the acting and performance events. This book has provided several beautiful pieces for Prose Interpretation and Dramatic Interpretation. This is a great book even if you don't plan to perform it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My mature 10 year old son (advanced reader) checked this book out from our school's elementary library hoping it would contain creepy mystery stories, similar to Goosebumps, but instead read very bizarre, at times disturbing stories which contained topics not appropriate for an elementary-middle school aged student. One story is of a man who can't decide his sexual orientation so he is visited by his "fairy Godfather". The fairy Godfather originated after he was killed in a gay bashing incident(killed with a tire iron) and felt becoming a fairy Godfather was most appropriate since he spent his life being called faggot and fairy. The man wishes all gay people would turn blue so he doesn't have to refine his "gaydar" senses and then he can date more easily by identify individuals to date if he so chooses to become homosexual. Another story is of a bloody mirror which brings a creature into your body every time you look at it ultimately killing one and living inside another. The boy has to contemplate suicide as a way of freeing himself from the creature. After skimming a few other stories which involve death and torture and no resolve for a happy ending, I had read enough. Sadly, my son had read the whole book for a book report and was left disappointed and at his age did not fully understand all of the content and was overly creeped out by some of the other stories. If I had read this book prior to him, I would have helped him choose another. After discussing this book with his teacher and another parent, all are in agreement that it was surprising that he found this at our library and will likely have it shipped to the high school. The cover, excerpts and back do not indicate the true nature of this book. My husband wonders what is the true agenda of this author promoting the book for this age level? As an educator, I do not promote book banning, but the explicit topic of deciding sexual orientation, gay-bashing and suicidal thoughts does not seem appropriate for an elementary library (even at 5th grade and is very questionable for middle school). Given the bizarre nature, older-aged topics and at times disturbing ideas this book has in contrast with wonderful literature/mysteries that is available, I would not recommend this for my 17 year old either. Please use parental and educator caution when considering this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is outstanding! Once I had laid eyes on the cover, I got hooked on a train filled with fantasy coming my way! Nine wonderful stories woven togehter into one book! How great is that?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved the book and my favorite was bicuits of glory.I believe Bruce's books come alive in youre mind.The books are good for kids and won't think they're scary.Well that's only my opinion i hope you read the book!