December 20, 2012

Oddrey

by Dave Whamond
Owlkids
978-1-926973-45-6
32 pp.
Ages 4-8
2012
Oddrey is not odd; she is exceptional! It's not that she's smarter (though she may be) or more creative (though she may be) or happier (though she may be) than her peers.  But Oddrey is certainly more enthusiastic about living her life to the fullest, regardless of how others, particularly her teachers, perceive her uniqueness.  
Like most kids, her peers tend to do their own thing, irrespective of others.  So they don't seem to mind Oddrey's individuality or her separateness, though it can make her feel a little lonely sometimes.  When her class prepares to perform a play, Oddrey's dreams of starring in the production are stymied with her assignment to play the role of a tree.  But Oddrey, true to her nature, is determined to be the best she can be, even if her enthusiasm and creativity are somewhat dampened when her teacher puts the kibosh on her ideas.  Regardless, in her inimitable way, Oddrey saves the production while encouraging her classmates to be their best, with her help.
Oddrey is not a prima donna.  She is a star: brilliant and illuminating.  She doesn't use her uniqueness to outshine her peers; she just does her best to be her best, and if a few others need her help to be their best, so be it.  Her clear eyes and simple smile are voluminous, like her spirit.  Her limbs always seem to be scurrying, gesticulating or creating.  She can even juggle soap bubbles!  And the flower (on a stalk) that springs from her hair reminds the reader that Oddrey is florescent, ever blossoming.

I was delighted when Dave Whamond's picture book My Think-a-Ma-Jink (Owlkids, 2009) won the Forest of Reading's Blue Spruce award in 2011, as I have always enjoyed his syndicated cartoon Reality Check for its quirky characters and whimsical word play.  Using mixed media, primarily pen and ink with watercolours, gouache and pencil, Oddrey is no less than a perfect addition to Dave Whamond's bibliography.  While Dave Whamond has excelled in illustrating books written by others (e.g.Secret Agent Y.O.U. written by Helaine Becker; Maple Tree, 2006; Hot Dog and Bob Adventure series written by L. Bob Rovetch, Chronicle Books; Justine McKeen series written by Sigmund Brouwer, Orca), I am delighted that he has shared his humour, in text and illustrations, with young readers again, this time with Oddrey, while still sending a powerful yet subtle message that being yourself is just grand.

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