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Oddly
     

Oddly

by Joyce Dunbar, Patrick Benson (Illustrator)
 

When a little boy bursts into their world, three unusual creatures find answers to their questions in this whimsical story from a stellar pair.

The Lostlet twirls a golden leaf and asks, Where am I? What do I hope for? The Strangelet holds a smooth white pebble and wonders, What am I? What do I dream of? The Oddlet listens to a seashell and muses, Who am I

Overview

When a little boy bursts into their world, three unusual creatures find answers to their questions in this whimsical story from a stellar pair.

The Lostlet twirls a golden leaf and asks, Where am I? What do I hope for? The Strangelet holds a smooth white pebble and wonders, What am I? What do I dream of? The Oddlet listens to a seashell and muses, Who am I? What do I wish for? Lost in their own worlds, the creatures are powerless to fi nd answers, until a small boy appears who seems stranger, odder, and even more lost than they. As the three creatures comfort the child, they discover their hearts’ desires — while their new friend finds surprising ways to make all their dreams and wishes come true.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The Lostlet, the Strangelet and the Oddlet are three furry sui generis critters who wander a desolate beach, pondering the Big Questions: "What am I?"; "Where am I?"; "Who am I?" When a little boy-"stranger, odder, and more lost than they"-stumbles into their melancholy reveries, their initial clinical reactions ("What's that noise you are making?" asks Oddlet as the boy weeps) give way to offering comfort, which in turn reveals their higher purpose: to love and be loved in return. (In response to the boy's hug, the Oddlet proclaims, "So that's what I've been wishing for... I'm a Huglet!") Despite its simple vocabulary and reliance on repetition, Dunbar's (The Monster Who Ate Darkness) parable-like text feels forced and arcane (it brings to mind the weaker alien-human encounters of the original Star Trek). But there's an inviting sense of scale to Benson's (Owl Babies) ink and watercolor drawings, and his weird, pointy-snouted protagonists possess a cuddly vulnerability-even if it appears that Strangelet has a broccoli floret growing out of its head. Ages 3-up. (May)

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Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Three odd, animal-like creatures are characters in Oddly. The Lostlet wanders in circles twirling a leaf, wondering, "Where am I?" and "What I hope…" The Strangelet skips in the shadows with a pebble, pondering, "What am I?" and "What I dream…" The Oddlet dances in the waves with a shell, whispering, "Who am I?" and "What I wish…" A young boy comes down the road crying and asking all of the same questions. The three creatures have never seen a boy. They wonder about him, finding him even odder and more lost than they are. The boy tells them that he wants to go home. He tries to explain to them what a home, a mom, and love mean. "Love is what makes you better," he declares. As the creatures give him what they are holding to make him feel better, he gives them a hug, a snuggle, and a hand. Together they dance their satisfied way home. The anthropomorphic, two-legged creatures are constructed to cuddle, with soft bodies, long noses, and no sharp edges. They exist in a forest of blue, leafless trees. The brown-skinned, appealing young boy is larger, acting almost like a parent. Ink and transparent watercolors create these actors on an almost empty stage of tan ground and blue sky. The meaning of the story is open to speculation. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2–The Lostlet, the Strangelet, and the Oddlet are suffering identity crises, walking around in circles, puzzling over their existence. Along comes a boy who is lost himself. The three have apparently never seen a human before and huddle around the youngster as he cries and says he’s run so far that he can’t find his way back. He misses his home and his mother. “'I want some love,’ he sobbed.” The creatures have no concept of love. They offer up their prized possessions in hopes of comforting him. Their golden leaf, white pebble, and pink shell make him smile for the first time. When he hugs them, they declare that’s what they’ve been longing for, and they change their names to Huglet, Snuglet, and Foundlet. They frolic and suddenly are home–in time for supper. The last picture shows the boy and the trio sitting around a table at a beach house with Mom in the background. The illustrations are the best part of this book. Benson’s large, stylized pictures depict a beach and a forest of spiky blue cactuslike trees. The creatures are whimsical, but do not resemble any known animals. This is a book without an audience. The usual picture-book crowd is not big on existential angst, and the pictures are too childlike for kids old enough for such philosophical thoughts.–Ieva Bates, Ann Arbor District Library, MI
Kirkus Reviews
A quirky cast of characters befriends a lonely child in this unusual story of belonging. Each creature, isolated and perplexed, meets a lost boy who wanders into their imaginary world. They give the child their cherished possessions to comfort him, and he thanks them accordingly. "Love is what makes you better," explains the boy. The story's strength is in Benson's physical representation of the child's confidantes; the trio resembles colorful, lovable rodents with their pointed snouts, winding tails and protruding bellies. Their endearing expressions add an emotional depth to the fantasy, and the nondescript setting, with its dry, sandy soil and pointed, purple brambles, turns the audience's focus to the characters' interactions. The pointed dialogue occasionally descends into the saccharine, as do the critters' names, which reflect their corresponding feelings: The Oddlet becomes a Huglet, the Strangelet turns into a Snuglet and the Lostlet changes his name to Foundlet. While the narrative's repetitive elements result in strong pacing, the resolution's abruptness yields a blemished, if intriguing, overall presentation. (Picture book. 4-7)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763642747
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
05/12/2009
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
10.20(w) x 10.80(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Joyce Dunbar is the author of many books for children, including THE MONSTER WHO ATE DARKNESS, illustrated by Jimmy Liao, and SHOE BABY, illustrated by her daughter, Polly Dunbar. Joyce Dunbar lives in England.

Patrick Benson has illustrated dozens of children’s books, including OWL BABIES by Martin Waddell and Herman Melville’s MOBY-DICK, edited by Jan Needle. He lives in England.

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