By Emily Winfield Martin
Random House Children’s Books, $14.99, 128 pages
The residents of Oddfellow’s Orphanage are all, well… odd. There’s the headmaster, Oddfellow, Ava, a girl with finches on her shoulder, Imogen, whose arm is illustrated with tattoos, Ollie, a boy with an onion for a head and the latest arrival, Delia, a mute girl with long braids. But they all have one thing in common – they have lost their family. Delia is the newest arrival at the school and at first is puzzled but soon thrilled by the goings-on there, instead of math and science, students study astronomy, fairies and monsters (real or imagined). Soon she starts to feel comfortable in her new home and finds that families aren’t just who you’re born into – they’re what you create yourself.
Oddfellow’s Orphanage is an outstanding children’s book about losing and finding family. The characters are lovingly created, beautifully drawn and come to life on the page. The fantastical elements of the book are delightful and definitely capture the imagination of the characters and the reader. The book nicely demonstrates the children’s struggles with grief over their lost families and how they individually are able to move on together. Children and their grown-ups will enjoy reading this book together.
Reviewed by Barbara Cothern