Martin’s debut features something unusual in children’s books: an orphanage that is run by kind people. Headmaster Oddfellow Bluebeard takes in orphaned children as well as individuals of all stripes, which include a boy with an onion for a head, a hedgehog, and a family of bears. After Delia arrives at this curious place, she finds that instead of math, reading, and spelling, students take lessons in fairy tales and folktales, cryptozoology (the study of mysterious or imaginary animals), and astronomy. Special occasions at the school include excursions to search for the Green Monster and Haircut Day, which comes around twice a year. Facing each chapter opener is a portrait of a single character, along with a caption, which reveals interesting tidbits: for instance, Ollie is the kind of onion that makes you laugh rather than cry. With the book’s quirky illustrations, satisfying attention to detail (pancakes come in the shapes of stars, hearts, and rabbits), and a loving family stitched together from the scraps of other families, early readers may find themselves drawn to this novel’s strange charm. Grades 2-4. --Ann Kelley
About the Author
EMILY WINFIELD MARTIN sketches, paints, and stitches to create imaginary worlds and characters. She is the author/illustrator of The Black Apple's Paper Doll Primer.
Her store, The Black Apple, has been featured in national publications and on TV shows, including the New York Times
and The Martha Stewart Show. Oddfellow's Orphanage
is both Emily's first book for children and her first novel! The inspiration came from the real I.O.O.F. (Independent Order of Oddfellows), dancing bears, ragtime music, and magic and mysterium of all sorts. Originally, Emily painted portraits of the children and adults at the imaginary orphanage, and from the portraits the stories emerged—enough to fill a book!
Emily lives among the giant fir trees of Portland, Oregon, with her fellow adventurer, Josiah, and their cat Miette. Visit her on line at the blackapple.typepad.com or etsy.com/shop/theblackapple.