BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Oddly Normal (Book 1) by Otis Frampton

Oddly Normal 1 by Peter Frampton on BookDragon“I WISH YOU WOULD BOTH JUST DISAPPEAR!!!” What child hasn’t at least thought that about their parents at some point?! If you’re half-witch, and half-human, and you actually voice such words really loudly on your 10th birthday – cake candles and all – you just might get your impulsive request … which is exactly what happens to Oddly Normal.

Thanks to her hapa heritage, Oddly sports green hair and pointed ears, not to mention that stand-out name. Of course, being different is not an optimal state, especially in school: “Even if you’re normal, kids can be pretty cruel. Add a few oddities to the recipe, and you’re in for special treatment,” Oddly explains. “The insults come in all flavors …,” she categorizes: “Rocky road: puke head. Chunky monkey: booger bangs. Peppermint schtick: lizard locks. And plain vanilla: freak.”

Alas, home is not the comfortable haven it should be. Her mother, who hails from Fignation (“[t]echnically, it doesn’t exist”), and her Earthling father are “just perfect” – at least for each other. “They’ve always been like this. Lost in their own little world. Their own little fantasy world. And let me tell you – I’ve never been a part of it.” But now that they’ve tracelessly disappeared, maybe being so alone isn’t really what Oddly wanted …

“Better three hours late than a minute too soon,” Oddly’s even more … uh … unique Auntie announces as Oddly wakes from her not-a-dream birthday disaster. Not only have mom and dad disappeared, but so has their standout domicile. Auntie reveals to Oddly that her mother “wasn’t being entirely truthful,” and for now, the “only safe place for you is Fignation.”

In Oddly’s unexpected new life, her aunt levitates, an oversized bug is the transport of choice to Menagerie Middle School, and Oddly finally gets to “be around people – kids – just like me.” And yet she learns all too soon, “The more things change – the more they stay the same.” Even in an alternate universe, school has the same bullies, young and old both. Besides surviving, Oddly must also solve that not-so-minor problem of her missing parents.

Creator Otis Frampton transitions smoothly from webcomics to the printed page in this first volume of many more to come (we hope!). His inventive creatures are fabulous figments of his imagination, and his wry, timely narrative is enhanced with hints and homages to The Wizard of Oz, various fairy tales, horror stories, and more. Now that Frampton has you totally hooked, if you must know immediately what happens next, you can access the digital downloads from the series’ indie press, Image Comics. Luddite that I am, these aging eyeballs compel me to wait for inked dead trees I can hold in my impatient hands, but given the magnetic energy of Book 1, at least I know I’m guaranteed more boisterous entertainment ahead. Good reads come to those who wait, right??!!

Readers: Middle Grade

Published: 2015


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