Oddly

Cover

Written by Joyce Dunbar, Illustrated by Patrick Benson

Candlewick Press, 2009

Round and round in circles went the Lostlet.

The plot in a nutshell: Three lost creatures help a lost boy (and vice versa)

A small furry creature called the Lostlet wanders in a forest, twirling a golden leaf in his hand and wondering where he is and what he hopes for. In another part of the forest, another creature, known as the Strangelet holds a white pebble and tries to figure out what he is and what his dreams are. In the waves near the forest, the Oddlet listens to a pink shell and tries to figure out who he is and what he wishes. A lost little boy runs down the beach toward them. They are surprised to find someone more lost and unusual than themselves. The boy starts to cry and the creatures come up to comfort him. He says he wants his home, his mom and some love. The creatures are puzzled, as they don’t know these words. They each give their objects (the leaf, pebble and shell) to the boy and he stops crying. He gives the Oddlet a hug, turning him into a Huglet, which is what he was wishing for. He snuggles the Stranglet, making him a Snuglet, which is what he was dreaming of, and he takes the Lostlet by the hand, making him a Foundlet. They all dance and sing together, and as the boy twirls the golden leaf, they are suddenly home in time for supper.

Excuse me, little green guy, but you've got some broccoli on your head.

Excuse me, little green guy, but you’ve got some broccoli on your head.

Author Joyce Dunbar has written more than 80 books, from books for very young kids all the way up to novels for preteens.   She is probably best known for her Mouse & Mole series of books, which inspired an animated Christmas special (Mouse & Mole at Christmas Time) in 2013. This story, however, didn’t gel for me. I wasn’t invested in the creatures because I didn’t know anything about them, other than the fact that they each carried an object and wanted something they couldn’t name. It started to come together for me when they met up with the boy, but then it skipped to them being home for supper, which felt too rushed and unexplained. It’s a cute concept, but the execution just didn’t grab me.

Patrick Benson’s illustrations in ink and watercolor feature mostly orange and blue backgrounds and elements, which make the unusual creatures stand out even more in their environment. It’s a strange environment, as well, with its weird blue plants that are too small to be trees and too thin to be shrubs. The creatures themselves are a little creepy-looking at times, but they get cuter toward the end of the book, when they are happy and smiling. Overall, this book was a bit of a disappointment.

And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that it’s almost impossible to help others without feeling a little better about yourself in the process.

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