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list price: $18.95
published: July 2006

Odd Man Out /hc

by Sarah Ellis

reviews: 2
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multigenerational, depression & mental illness
0 of 5
0 ratings
list price: $18.95
published: July 2006

Winner of the Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize and the TD CCBC Canadian Children's Literature Award

Kip is spending the summer with his grandmother and his five eccentric girl cousins, including Emily, who thinks she's a dog. Gran's house is about to be demolished, so anything goes, whether it's drawing maps on the walls or sawing off the knob at the bottom of the banister for a smoother ride.

When Kip bashes through an old closet, he discovers the binder his late father kept as a teenager. He's bewildered by what he finds: puzzling lists, hair samples, old newspaper clippings and business cards -- all accompanying a confidential report written by a mysterious young operative who is carrying out a secret plan to infect teenagers with a cell-altering virus.

This wonderful novel has all the Sarah Ellis hallmarks -- quirky characters, insight and wit -- underpinned by resonant themes of family, memory and the creative imagination.

About the Author
Sarah Ellis has written more than twenty novels and picture books for young readers. Her many honors include the Governor General's Award, the Mr. Christie Book Award, the Sheila A. Egoff Children's Book Prize, and the prestigious Vicky Metcalf Award for a body of work. Written from her insightful memories of her own childhood and keen observations of the world around her, Ellis' stories masterfully reflect her readers' own experiences. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Author profile page >
Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
9 to 12
4 to 7
Reading age:
9 to 12
  • Short-listed, Manitoba Young Reader's Choice Award
  • Long-listed, OLA Silver Birch Award
  • Short-listed, Alberta Children's Choice Award
  • Long-listed, Chocolate Lily Award
  • Commended, Maine State Library Cream of the Crop List
  • Short-listed, CLA Book of the Year for Children Award
  • Winner, Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize
  • Winner, TD Canadian Children's Literature Award
  • Commended, ALA Notable Books for Older Readers list
  • Commended, OLA Best Bets - Top 10 Fiction for Children
  • Commended, CCBC Our Choice (Starred Selection)
  • Commended, Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award
  • Short-listed, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award
Editorial Reviews

Quirky characters and a solid plot make for an engaging read.

— Book Links

Odd Man Out is beautifully written: clever, funny, and hauntingly sad. Ellis has a sure hand at dialogue, bringing to life each cousin's eccentricity and Gran's warmth.

— Vancouver Sun

The strength of this novel rests not only in the intriguing plot, but also with Ellis's amazing ability to bring her characters to life....all of the characters stay alive in the readers mind far after the book is finished.

— Resource Links

Ellis creates with splendid and inviting detail a chaotic houseful of happy relatives who treat the old house as a big toy because of its forthcoming demolition...this is a determinedly individual and warmly affectionate family story about a boy who finds strength in new understanding of both the present and the past.

— Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Kip...is an engaging protagonist, and his search for the truth is suspenseful enough to hold readers' attention.

— Booklist

Ellis's language is restrained but rich, and she brings readers directly into Kip's world, never wavering from his sensitive point of view; and Kip's gradual understanding of his father's mental illness is affecting. The characterization is vivid...

— Horn Book

This is a thoughtful and often funny book of a boy on the verge of adolescence challenged to think...in a different way.

— School Library Journal

Ellis...offers an insightful character study in this novel....the themes of growing up, accepting change, and finding out where one belongs make it a universally appealing work that teens will enjoy...

— VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

Ellis's restrained but rich language and vivid characterizations bring readers directly into Kip's world.

— Horn Book

This is another superb novel by Sarah Ellis. Odd Man Out is a multifaceted story of imagination, suspense, family, fun, and even fear...without a doubt, Odd Man Out deserves a spot on every library and classroom shelf. Highly recommended.

— CM Magazine

Odd Man Out is a mystery novel full of thoughtfulness and humour.

— Teaching Tolerance

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Reader Reviews

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Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

Odd Man Out

In Sarah Ellis’s Odd Man Out, Kip (the only child of his widowed mother) finds himself immersed in hidden family history when he travels to British Columbia to visit his grandmother at her island home. Surrounded by his five eclectic and expressive female cousins, his summer is rich with camaraderie and conversation. Through dialogue (“I’m a dog,” said the smallest girl, spooning cereal out of the dog dish, “but I speak human.”) and vocabulary (“wooka good”, “janky bad”), Ellis brings out the humour which is a guaranteed result of six children congregating under one roof for summer vacation. And at Gran’s, almost anything goes – including writing on the walls since the house is slated for demolition.

In choosing his room, Kip stakes a claim to the attic which is far from the frenzy of the “girlatorium”. In his closet, he discovers a binder containing a story which his deceased father wrote as a young man. The story, which reads like a sciencefiction novel, is conveyed as a confidential report written by a mysterious young operative who is carrying out a secret mission. Kip finds the story intriguing; reading it helps him feel connected to his dad. But he is shocked when he gleans disturbing information about his father from an overheard conversation between his mother and grandmother. The unsettling discovery forces Kip to question and doubt many things, including the image of his father which he has constructed over the years. Parts of Kip’s father’s story are interspersed throughout the text, creating suspense and mystery as readers attempt to determine the context in which it was written and if it is fact or fiction. The secondary story possesses a dark, intense, and eerie mood and provides a marked contrast to the lighter, carefree, and brighter tone of the primary story.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Spring 2007. Vol.30 No.2.

Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

H Odd Man Out

Kip finds a report in his grandma’s attic written by a mysterious operative on a secret mission. Quirky, funny, smart, insightful and surprising – this multi-layered novel is Ellis at her best.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Canadian Children’s Book News. 2007.

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