with illustrations by Tom McLaughlin
Unbeknown to us, in every village and town, lurks some very strange characters, small, bendy and with pointy ears. Their aim: create chaos and confusion, pouncing on their innocent victims whilst they least expect it. They are Meddlers, and they are professional pranksters. The Odds are the official Meddlers for the town of Trott, and whether it is to hide their car keys or make your trip over yourself, they are always on step ahead .. until the Plopwells move into Snootypants Manor. No matter how hard the Odds try, they just can’t catch them. Something is afoot, and Mr Odd is determined to find out what.
The Odds oozes fun and mischief and presses all the right buttons to appeal to the intended audience. It works great as a read-aloud ( we have just finished reading it at bedtime in the Library Mice household) and reads really quickly this way. Young readers will need a bit more stamina to read it on their own, though the illustrations by Tom McLaughlin do help break the text in more manageable chunks. The artwork really is integral part to this book; it helps convey the humour and mischievousness of the story, but also helps to keep it quite safe. Meddlers are obviously a little bit on the nasty side, and like living in squalor, and the illustrations might prevent from children imagining them as something too sinister. Instead, it portrays them as quirky, but definitely not scary.
Of course, young readers will love all the pranks, silliness and grime, and this genre is one that has always proved very popular with this age range (think Dahl, Stanton, Ardagh). But here the readers will also feel sympathy for the Odds, who are desperately to save their livelihood, and eventually their home. Though at end, they are back to their old naughty selves again, hinting maybe for a second story.
The Odds will appeal to boys and girls alike and really is a fun read. The extracts of The Meddlers’ Mischief Manual dotted throughout the book as well the test questions from the Society of Meddlers’ Professional Prankster Exam might just arouse particular interest in young readers in pulling pranks, so parents, beware!
Source: review copy from publisher