oddly-normalOddly Normal is a kid with problems. The daughter of a witch and an average guy named Mr. Normal, Oddly has green hair, pointed ears, a weird old house, and a painful sensitivity to water. She is mercilessly teased at school. When no one comes to her tenth birthday party and her clueless parents are surprised by it, Oddly explodes with anger, yelling, “I wish you would both just DISAPPEAR!” Oddly runs out of the house and into the backyard, and as the candles on her cake go out, her parents, along with her entire house, disappear.

Luckily, her great aunt (another witch, simply called Auntie) visits shortly afterwards and discovers what has happened. Auntie brings Oddly to Fignation, a land full of strange, magical beings, while she works on trying to figure out what happened to Oddly’s parents. Oddly is thrilled to be starting at a new school, hoping that in Fignation she won’t be labeled a “freak.” However, she quickly discovers that being half-human sets her apart just as much as being a half-witch did at her old school. She finds a few potential friends, but she also becomes a target for dangerous bullies with magical abilities.

Life is dark and complex for Oddly. Like many outcasts, she wants her life to be different, but when she moves to a fantasy-like world full of magic, she has to deal with even more problems and threats. She’s also desperate to fit in, but she finds she can’t—anywhere—because of her parentage. Teachers, parents, and other authority figures help very little and don’t offer any answers. Instead, they often make life worse for Oddly through ignorance or indifference.

On the other hand, Oddly’s life is also full of magic, wonder, and hope. Auntie in particular clearly loves Oddly and wants to help her, despite her bewildering vocabulary, enigmatic mannerisms, and reluctance to provide straight answers to Oddly’s questions. Fignation is an amazing world full of awe-inspiring vistas and unusual but sympathetic potential friends. There are also strong hints that there are lots of incredible things to discover in Fignation, if Oddly gets a chance to dig in and investigate.

The artwork and layout reflect all this and contribute to it in a marvelous, absolutely stunning way. Sequenced action is masterfully portrayed with creative use of frame layouts. Backgrounds in both Earth and Fignation are gorgeous, and color schemes and small details are used to convey mundanity, danger, or wonder. It’s also clear in the artwork that this is a character-driven story. Strong lines, expert use of light and shading, and good placement choices make Oddly and other characters pop. Visually, this book is simply superb.

Middle school kids who like fantasy stories with dark touches will absolutely love Oddly Normal. Tween fans of the Amulet series should definitely check it out. I was also strongly reminded of the Courtney Crumrin series because of the supernatural elements and the oblivious, enigmatic, or indifferent adults. The high quality artwork makes the book inspiring for any potential graphic artist as well.

Oddly Normal, vol. 1
by Otis Frampton
ISBN: 9781632152268
Image Comics, 2015
Publisher Age Rating: E (all ages)

  • Kristen Lawson

    Past Reviewer

    Kristen Lawson is the Youth Services Department Manager at the Roselle Public Library in Roselle, IL. She has worked with children and teens in public libraries since graduating with her MLS from UIUC in 2006. Now she is working on making more space for kids’ graphic novels, in addition to other duties that fall under “making the library awesome.” Though very picky about movies and music, she has a wide range of reading interests and is constantly on a mission to read all the things.

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