Friday, July 20, 2007


PUBLISHER: Viper Comics
GENRE: Modern Fantasy

ISSUE: Covering issues 1-7
FORMAT: Trade Paperback
PAGES: 112 pages
COLOR: Full Color
ISBN: 0-9777883-0-X

Good versus Evil
History repeating itself
Cultural norms
Racial tensions
Literary devices

Oddly is a girl who stands out in a crowd, especially at school. Green hair and eccentric parents tend to do that. Every kid, preteen or teen, eventually hopes that his or her parents would just go away, disappear, drop off the face of the earth. When this half-witch makes the same wish on tenth birthday she finds her parents and her home gone. Luckily for Oddly, her aunt was late to Oddly’s birthday party and is able to whisk poor Oddly to the magical world of Fignation until everything could be sorted out.

This half-witch is no more accepted in Fignation as she is on Earth. She is sent to school and makes some friends, but she also makes some enemies out of students and teachers. With the help of her friends and her aunt, Oddly Normal is determined to find her parents.

I love the character, Oddly Normal. Her life is not perfect and it only gets worse, but she perseveres, pushing ahead and pursuing the mystery surrounding her parents’ disappearance. It is a beautiful mystery full of all kinds of references and goodies beneath the story. There is so much to ODDLY NORMAL and yet the child who simply wants to superficially read for enjoyment can do so. There is enough meat that the child who enjoys a deeper understanding of the literature can do so and love every minute of it.

The art is as deep as the writing. Frampton does a fantastic job using his art to support the writing and to help the reader discover the clues surrounding Oddly’s parents’ disappearance. I am especially impressed with Frampton’s use of color and his arrangement of panels to tell the story. Some kids will get it and others will not, but that is what makes this book so wonderful. It is not too easy and it is not too hard.

My Rating: All Ages (8 and older preferred)
All Ages Reads: All Ages
Comics in the Classroom: All Ages (8 and older preferred)

ODDLY NORMAL is a book that can be enjoyed on several layers. One could read the book through, paying little attention to the mystery itself or understanding the all the dialogue and enjoy the book on a superficial level. What fun would that be when there is so much more to be thought about and discussed and enjoyed? ODDLY NORMAL is not just an entertaining book, but it is one that explores some serious subjects and lends itself to further discussion.

A thoughtful teacher could use ODDLY NORMAL as a way to study the cultural divide that affects those who are bi-racial and feel that they may not fit nicely into any culture. The effective teacher could use the classic motif of good-versus-evil (or in this case evil-versus-good). There is also a strong link between the tragedies of life and those who repeat that history. So far, this motif is not fully explored, but I expect that it will be. There was a reference to that guy from Austria who was such a good orator. Hitler’s name is never mentioned, but if a teacher were so inclined, she could help her students discover who the book was talking about and even present a unit on the German invasion of Europe.

The use of color is also very particular in this book and the teacher could help students make sense of color and how that device may be used to make predictions. Oh, predictions. ODDLY NORMAL is a perfect book to help young students cut their teeth on making predictions and using evidence from the book to make those predictions.

There are some large vocabulary words in the book, which would be perfect for a word wall or other vocabulary-building strategy. Some examples of vocabulary include: blasphemy, oxymoron, droll, detention, hallowed, kindred, acquaintance, laboratory, hooligans, culture, corporeal, artificial, imprinted, and several others. This book would be good for introducing the students to using semantic and syntactic cues.

There is also mention of some of the literary devices used by good writers: puns, palindromes, alliteration, malapropisms, repetition, and anagrams. Not only could these devices be discussed and vocabulary increased but students could practice using these literary devices in their own writing. It would also be fun to discover when Frampton uses those devices in this book.

Volume 1 made Booklists’ Top 10 Graphic Novels for Youth. Volume 2, ODDLY NORMAL: FAMILY REUNION is already on shelves. A preview is available on the website.

Highly Recommended
This is great book to have in a school or classroom library. It is rich and beautiful and can be used to teach writing and reading to students all the while they think they are simply reading for fun. In this case, the exploration and discussion only adds to the book and will increase the student’s enjoyment, not take away from it.

1 comment:

Otis Frampton said...

Thank you so much for your kind review of my book! And I'm thrilled that is is "Highly Recommended" by you and your website.

-Otis Frampton