By Michael Berry,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Boisterous fantasy features vivid teen girl hero.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Set in an alternate America of the early 1800s, Oddity shows how the Unified States might have operated.
Keep the promises you make. Be prompt. Extend compassion to those who need it.
Positive Role Models
After her doctor father is killed by bandits, Clover Elkin goes on a quest to retrieve his medical bag and all its contents. She blames herself for his death and for unwittingly caused destruction by using oddities (magical items) without considering the consequences. Brave, resilient, and compassionate, she forges ahead without complaint, even as she learns harsh truths about herself. This fantasy world features fictional Native American nations. Clover and other main characters are White. In her village, diverse ethnicities live as equals. Clover’s neighbor, whom she's close with, is a formerly enslaved Black woman.
Violence & Scariness
Oddity has scenes of violence, many of them magic-based. Clover uses her fire-based powers as weapons and faces off against violent vermin.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A scene or two set in a bar.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Oddity, by Eli Brown and illustrated by Karin Rytter, is a fantasy set in an alternate 1822 America where the Louisiana Purchase never happened and the territory is co-ruled by France, the 11 Unified States, and the (fictional) Sehanna Confederation. The action follows main character Clover Elkin, age 13, as she goes on a quest to retrieve her murdered father's magical possessions, called oddities. Violent scenes are usually magic-based -- including monsters made out of roadkill -- and could be frightening for some readers. There's no swearing or sex.
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
As ODDITY begins, Clover Elkin watches in horror as her physician father is murdered by poachers seeking magical objects known as oddities. Clover swears to retrieve his stolen satchel, a promise that sends her on a quest that involves a talking rooster, a super-strong rag doll, a girl who runs a medicine show, and a man with a hat that captures secrets. Clover herself discovers new abilities, and she becomes a pawn in a brewing war that could destroy eveything she cares about.
Is It Any Good?
To say that a book is charming may be faint praise, but this alternate-history fantasy manages to keep a light touch that satisfies. Author Eli Brown builds a world full of unexpected magic, where common items such as ice tongs or gloves are imbued with special powers. Clover, the main character, is vividly drawn -- sensitive yet resilient, determined to keep her promises no matter what the cost. Funny, scary, and deeply imaginative, Oddity is an off-kilter delight. And Karin Rytter's woodcut-style illustrations add to the charm.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Oddity presents an alternate version of American history. What might have happened if the Louisiana Purchase never occurred? Why do writers enjoy speculating on ways to change history?
How does Clover keep going in the face of terrible adversity? How do people find the inner strength to persevere when the outlook is the bleakest?
Why is it important to keep promises? Why are secrets dangerous?
- Author: Eli Brown
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Walker Books U.S.
- Publication date: March 30, 2021
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 16
- Number of pages: 368
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: March 29, 2021
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Where to Read
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