Odd Weird & Little
by Patrick Jennings
EgmontUSA, $15.99 hardcover, ISBN-10 1606843745 , January 2014
When the new kid joins his class, Woodrow agrees with his schoolmates–Toulouse is really weird. He’s short – kindergarten short – dresses in a suit like a grandpa, has huge eyes, and barely says a word. But Woodrow isn’t exactly Mr. Popularity. The frequent target of the class bully himself, he figures that maybe all Toulouse needs is a chance.
Like its title, this book is odd, weird, and little, but in the most lovable sense of the words. Woodrow has to admit that Toulouse is a strange character, what with the suits, the bowler hats, the briefcase full of fishing tackle, and his strange ability to climb trees and get out of them instantaneously. Oh, and there’s that incident with the classroom goldfish. Initially, Woodrow puts all the weirdness down to the fact that Toulouse is from Quebec, but as the two boys spend more time together, he begins to suspect the mystery of Toulouse goes much deeper than Canada. At the same time, Woodrow begins to realize that he’s going to have to stand up to the same classmates who bully him when they turn on small, frail Toulouse. How much is friendship worth?
With all the heavy-duty talk about bullying lately–and it is a serious subject–it’s nice to see a book with a gentle yet accurate treatment of the issue. No big-drama physical assaults here, and why should there be? Bullying often takes the form of insult upon insult upon insult, vandalism of a person’s possessions, or many other methods that stop short of a black eye but do just as much damage. Jennings portrays bullying and standing up for oneself in a real and moving way without going over the top or resorting to preachery. That’s my new word. I made it up. Preachery. Use it.
Although bullying plays a major role in the story, the real impact comes from Toulouse’s true identity. Even if the clues seem fairly obvious to the knowledgeable reader, it still makes for a wonderful piece of fairy tale surrealism.
Recommend to: Upper elementary readers
To buy or not to buy: Yes. Yes. Yes.
This honest review refers to an ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.