Tuesday, 14 January 2014
Review: The Odd Squad - Bully Bait by Michael Fry
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: January 16th, 2014
Nick is stuffed in his locker. Again. It's not so bad. Lockers are roomier than you'd think. Especially when you're the shortest kid on the planet, which is exactly why Bully-Boy Roy stuffed him in there in the first place: he fits. The school counselor says Roy has issues. The only issue Nick can see is that Roy is a mutant troll. Nick's friends Molly and Karl think the troll needs to be defeated. Together, they are THE ODD SQUAD.
The Odd Squad: Bully Bait is a new book for children in the 8+ age range and is in a similar vein to Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Tom Gates and The World of Norm. It's fully illustrated in a cartoon style by author Michael Fry which I'm sure readers will love. The visual aspect of this kind of children's fiction really adds an extra dimension to the story and makes it a much more enjoyable read.
Although this book appears to be light and fun on the surface, it does delve deeper into issues facing children these days, both at school and at home. It's predominantly about bullying and acceptance, but it also touches on loss and how you never can know what's going on with someone in their life they choose to keep private. Nick soon learns the hard way that standing up to a bully by bullying back is never the answer, and that any type of bully is a bad one. These are all important messages for kids of this age and this book would be good for classrooms and school libraries, with many subjects that could be up for discussion.
As well as carrying deceptively serious messages within its pages, The Odd Squad: Bully Bait is also funny and daft and thoroughly entertaining. Nick's grandma, Memaw, is one of the best characters featured, completely nutty and a joy to read about (and see!). Ultimately this story is about Nick and his quest for friendship and a bully-free life. That's not to say that he won't still get shoved in a few lockers along the way, because he will, but luckily the timing coincides with P.E. class so it isn't all bad!
A fun, topical read for primary school students, The Odd Squad: Bully Bait will be one of those books that is constantly checked out from the library. Boys will love Nick and his compassionate, quirky personality, and girls will no doubt identify with his rather tall friend, Molly. An all-round great book for younger readers!