Quill and Quire

Canada's magazine of book news and reviews

Oddrey

by Dave Whamond

With her shiny black pageboy haircut and daisy-shaped hair doodad, Dave Whamond’s title character bears some resemblance to Wednesday Addams (don’t all “weird girls”?). Unlike that gloomy girl, our heroine is perpetually sunny, creative, and confident, even when her inventive ways invite derision. Other kids have light-bulb ideas; Oddrey sees a chandelier. She zigs when they zag, her dog meows, she colours apples blue.

All of that changes when Oddrey, cast as a tree in the school production of The Wizard of Oz, saves the day when she improvises an imaginative solution to help Dorothy and the gang remember forgotten lines and overcome a broken set. In a fun riff on the tried-and-true “weird girl finds acceptance” trope, Oddrey’s grateful classmates decide not just to tolerate her uniqueness but to let her actions inspire their own creativity.

This is a terrific book to read aloud to a small group of children so that they can look closely at the details embedded in the pictures. Each spread contains some lovely gem, from the expressions on the kids’ faces to the way Whamond connects Oddrey to other characters through colour. The other children are rendered in tones of grey and blue; the smiling teacher, like Oddrey, is in full colour, suggesting that she understands the wacky kid who can make the most of any situation. One illustration depicting Oddrey’s unshakeable positivity finds our girl channelling Gene Kelly, whirling around a lamppost during a rainstorm while the other kids mope and drag themselves through puddles. The final image resembles a wild Where’s Waldo, with all the kids joyfully letting loose on the playground like never before, inspired by the cheerful, positive attitude of their brave new friend.

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