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Oddest of All Hardcover – September 1, 2008

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 - 12
  • Lexile Measure: 840L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152058087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152058081
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 7 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #933,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6–8—A delicious collection of nine funny, frightening, and thoughtful short stories. Coville has a true gift for creating characters and setting, such as the creepy pond at her Auntie Alma's that Margaret is mysteriously drawn to, or the haunted mansion where young ghost communicators Nine and Chris find themselves stranded on a stormy evening. There is something for most readers—a bit of fantasy, a smattering of humorous reality, a dose of science fiction, and a dash of mystery. An author's note explains the origins of the stories. Teens are sure to find the author's insights entertaining and will certainly gobble up these eerie tales.—Shari Fesko, Southfield Public Library, MI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

All the stories in this collection feature encounters with the supernatural, but they vary greatly in tone and content. A few of the selections, such as a tale about a boy who is genetically related to the Frog Prince, are ironic and funny; others fit more neatly into the supernatural-horror genre, such as “The Mask of Eamonn Tiyado,” which features creepy descriptions of peeling faces. A story about a boy with silver eyes who has been touched by a unicorn’s magic captures the mood and feel of a folktale. Characters Nine and Cara, who appeared in Coville’s previous works, return in a story about a ghost who returns to the grave. All of the stories are well paced, and most furnish a surprise at the end. Because of the diversity among the entries, most readers will be able to find something to their liking. Grades 5-8. --Todd Morning

More About the Author

Bruce Coville was born in Syracuse, New York, in 1950. His family lived in farm territory, about twenty miles north of Syracuse. Bruce grew up around the corner from his grandparents' dairy farm, where he spent a great deal of time as a child, dodging cows and chores to the best of his ability. As a young reader he loved Mary Poppins and Dr. Dolittle, and still has fond memories of rising ahead of the rest of his family so he could huddle in a chair and read THE VOYAGES OF DR. DOLITTLE. He also read lots of things that people consider junk (Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, and zillions of comic books). His only real regret is the time he spent watching television, when he could have been reading instead. (A mind is a terrible thing to waste!)

His first book, THE FOOLISH GIANT, was published in 1978. It was illustrated by his wife, Katherine, whom he had married in 1969. This was followed in 1979 by SARAH'S UNICORN, also illustrated by Katherine. After a long period of working separately, the Covilles began collaborating again with SPACE BRAT and GOBLINS IN THE CASTLE, both published in 1992.

Before getting published Bruce earned his living as a toymaker, a gravedigger, a cookware salesman, an assembly line worker, and finally as an elementary school teacher (second and fourth grades). He left teaching in 1981 to devote himself to becoming a full time writer - though it took another five years to achieve that goal!)

Bruce has published over 100 books, which have appeared in over a dozen countries around the world and sold more than sixteen million copies. Among his most popular titles are MY TEACHER IS AN ALIEN, INTO THE LAND OF THE UNICORNS, and THE MONSTER'S RING. In 2001 he founded Full Cast Audio, an audiobook company dedicated to creating unabridged, full cast recordings of the best in children's and young adult literature.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Master storyteller Bruce Coville continues to wow readers with his quirky tales in this anthology of nine stories that are magical, frightening, hilarious and touching.

ODDEST OF ALL opens with the thought-provoking "In Our Own Hands," in which Earth is given a mind-boggling choice. It all begins in a time set in the future when Johnny, home from college, is getting ready to dig into his breakfast cereal in front of the television. Suddenly he notices that the newscaster has been replaced by a female with blue scales, green hair and huge eyes. Although Johnny and his mother believe at first that someone is playing a joke when she greets the "people of Earth," they soon realize it's no prank. Of course they are terrified, especially after the aliens demonstrate their power. But they soon discover that Earth's inhabitants are being given an opportunity to decide the planet's future. The story's ending will make readers ponder for a very long time.

Most of the collection's tales are fantasy, but "What's the Worst That Could Happen?" is a realistic "horror" story that any teen can relate to. Murphy Murphy is not exactly rolling in good luck (there's that name, just to start with). Will his life get rosier now that his crush, Tiffany, seems to be noticing him, too? How much is Murphy crazy about Tiffany? After she asks if she can speak to him, he is tempted to say, "Your words would be like nectar flowing into the hungry mouths of my ears..." Thus, when Tiffany asks him to take part in her drama club skit, Murphy readily agrees, ignoring for the moment that he suffers from literally paralyzing stage fright, in a setup for hilarious tragedy.
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Format: Hardcover
This collection of short stories by Bruce Coville has something for any kid who's ever enjoyed fantasy, science fiction, or ghost stories. The tales range in length and genre, as well as in level of seriousness. Some address very serious topics, like the fate of Earth as we know it, while others are more humorous, such as one story that deals specifically with the vagaries of being thirteen. All of the stories are compelling tales told about people the reader can relate to and set in worlds you really want to explore.

Some of the stories in this volume seemed like typical horror/ghost tales; "The Ghost Let Go" and "The Mask of Eammon Tiyado" both fit into this category. "The Thing in Auntie Alma's Pond" was a nice change from this typicality that addressed some of the same issues as the other tales from a different viewpoint.

One of my favorite stories in the book, "In Our Own Hands," focuses on a future in which aliens come to Earth, not to take it over and destroy it, but to take it over so that they can improve it for humans, since we have not been doing our part to take care of this world. However, these aliens do appear to be benevolent in their intentions; they announce that everyone on Earth will have the opportunity to cast a vote and decide the course of action that their planet will take. This story deftly addresses important issues of ecology and human initiative while placing the focus not on the environmental message but in the head of an average college-age boy named Johnny who struggles over his own decision about how to cast his vote.

Other notable tales, in my opinion, were "The Hardest, Kindest Gift" and "Herbert Hutchinson in the Underworld"--the former sprawling and poignant, the latter short and sparkling with satire.
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Format: Hardcover
Ages 12 and up will relish this fine gathering of nine magical stories by Bruce Coville, who uses the strange and supernatural in a series of astonishing secrets and oddities. Three have never been published before: the result is a fine gathering of chillers that will prove hard to put down - and perfect for middle school leisure readers.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Zelma Zinsky on January 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In this book of short stories you will find nine interesting tales.
What would you do if an alien announced that the fate of the world was in your hands and that you could save the planet by voting for them to run the country instead of the President? Would you vote "yes" or "no"? Read "In our own hands" to decide what the better choice might be. Find out also what lies at the bottom of a pond & what happens to frogs when they are exposed to toxic waste.
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