Oddly

Joyce Dunbar, Author, Patrick Benson, Illustrator , illus. by Patrick Benson. Candlewick $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4274-7

The Lostlet, the Strangelet and the Oddlet are three furry sui generis critters who wander a desolate beach, pondering the Big Questions: “What am I?”; “Where am I?”; “Who am I?” When a little boy—“stranger, odder, and more lost than they”—stumbles into their melancholy reveries, their initial clinical reactions (“What's that noise you are making?” asks Oddlet as the boy weeps) give way to offering comfort, which in turn reveals their higher purpose: to love and be loved in return. (In response to the boy's hug, the Oddlet proclaims, “So that's what I've been wishing for... I'm a Huglet!”) Despite its simple vocabulary and reliance on repetition, Dunbar's (The Monster Who Ate Darkness ) parable-like text feels forced and arcane (it brings to mind the weaker alien-human encounters of the original Star Trek ). But there's an inviting sense of scale to Benson's (Owl Babies ) ink and watercolor drawings, and his weird, pointy-snouted protagonists possess a cuddly vulnerability—even if it appears that Strangelet has a broccoli floret growing out of its head. Ages 3–up. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/04/2009
Release date: 05/01/2009
Genre: Children's
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