HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Mighty Odds
Author and Illustrator: Amy Ignatow
Publisher: Amulet Books, 2016
Related website: http://www,amuletbooks.com (publisher)
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 10 – 14
Rating: *** 3 stars (FAIR)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Ignatow, Amy. The Mighty Odds (published in 2016 by Amulet Books, an imprint of Harry N. Abrams Inc., 115 W. 18th St., New York City, NY 10011). Muellersville is a small, rural town in Pennsylvania Amish country. Nick Gross is a somewhat chubby, nerdy boy whose dad recently passed away. Daneisha or Cookie Parker is a popular African-American girl who moved with her mom to Muellersville from Philadelphia. Farshad Rajavi, whose parents are both scientists, is called “Terror Boy” and looked at as an outcast because of his Iranian heritage. And the mysterious Martina Saltis is an artsy girl (what is really odd is that Martina, at least in the illustrations, has antennae, but no one seems to notice). They are all fellow twelve year old, sixth grade students at Deborah Reed Middle School, where the two main cliques are “Farm Kids” and “Company Kids.” The four are on a bus together, along with substitute teacher Ryan Friend, known as “Yo-Yo Sub,” returning from a field trip to Philadelphia when the bus is involved in a terrible accident. Each of them survives, but strange things begin to happen.
First, the bus driver simply disappears. Nick can teleport but just four inches to the left. Cookie can read minds but only when they are thinking about directions. Farshad has super strength but only in his thumbs. Martina can change her eye color. And Mr. Friend walks around unintentionally causing explosions and starting fires. Throw in Nick’s shrimpy friend Jay Carpenter and an Amish teenager named Abe Zook, and everyone is asking the question, “What is going on?” How will they cope with their odd superpowers? And where will it all lead? The Mighty Odds, intended as Book One of “The Odds Series,” has an interesting premise with some great possibilities, but it is marred by several features which I assume are intended to make it attractive to modern, worldly kids. In addition to a number of childish terms for body parts and functions, frequent profanity (what “O.M.G.” stands for—spelled out, and other instances of using the word “God” as an exclamation), some cursing (“da**it” twice and “he**” once), and even a little vulgarity (“kicking a**,” “all pi**ed,” and “bas**rds”). Why some contemporary writers of books intended for ages 10-14 feel compelled to include such things is beyond me.
In addition, Jay is secretly in love with Cookie and talks about his desire that they “fall in love and make coffee-colored babies.” Cookie initially thinks that Nick is actually “Jay’s boyfriend.” And Cookie’s mother became pregnant in college and never married her father. Beyond these objectionable elements, a lot of meandering occurs, I suppose to provide background for future books in the series. Sometimes the story is told in cartoon-type drawings, supposedly from Martina, by author Amy Ignatow, who is a cartoonist; these might appeal to some readers, but I found them more of a distraction. Finally, the story ends leaving things completely up in the air. I realize that there are supposed to be sequels, but it would be nice to have some kind of satisfactory conclusion. I consider the book only fair. Ignatow is also the author of the “Popularity Papers” series, which is supposedly an “entertaining look at the social hierarchy of preteens and the challenges of growing up.” I am not that fond of “series books” anyway, and based on what I found in The Mighty Odds, I have no desire to read anything else by this writer.