Friday, September 13, 2013

Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series 2013 - Installment #13

How's this for some epic weirdness? Today, Friday the 13th, marks the 13th installment of 2013's Bugs and Bunnies Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series. That's a whole lotta 13's all in one day. Also? September is the 9th month of the year, and this is the 4th annual BnBWWoL series, and if you add those two numbers together, you get...that's right...13. *cue creepy music*

If you're a paraskavedekatriaphobe, or a triskaidekaphobe, fear not: None of today's books have anything to do with Friday the 13th, or with the number 13. At all. (Although, Note to Self: That really would have been a good idea for a theme. Why didn't I think of that sooner?) So be assured that despite all the weird coincidences above, you've found a nice, safe, 13-Free place to celebrate some literary weirdness.

If you're new to BnBWWoL, click on the link in this sentence to get caught up, then come on back here and join the fun.

If you're a regular reader, you already know the drill, so go ahead and dive on in. Weirdness awaits!

Last week's Variation on the Overall Weirdo Theme was Odd Ducks. This week?


The WordWeb app on my phone defines outliers as: 

"an extreme deviation from the mean" 

Whether they live in the real world, or in the comics world, the characters in the following books most definitely operate outside the norm. And that's just fine by them:

Liar and Spy 
Written by Rebecca Stead
Ages 9 and up

Seventh-grader Georges, who's something of an outcast at school, has just moved into a Brooklyn apartment building where he meets twelve-year-old Safer. The more Georges gets to know Safer, the more he learns about his quirky new friend: Safer's parents let him and his siblings name themselves, and Safer drinks coffee from a flask. Also? Safer spies on people via the building's lobbycam.

In fact, Safer is way into the spy thing, and soon draws Georges into his world of apartment building espionage. When Safer gives Georges his first spying assignment – involving a mysterious and possibly nefarious building resident Safer has dubbed "Mr. X," Georges goes along with it, because it's exciting, this spy stuff. But soon, things begin not to add up, and Georges begins to question: Is this really real as Safer says, or is it just some elaborate game Safer made up to dupe Georges? And if it is real, how far is Georges willing to go to help a friend - his only friend - that he barely knows?

Written by Jerry Spinelli
Ages  12 and up

The new tenth-grade-girl was like no one anyone had ever met in the halls of Mica High. For starters, she called herself Stargirl. She also had a daily habit of strolling and twirling past the cafeteria tables at lunch, singing and playing the ukelele. She was so out there, kids were saying she was a fake; a plant, put there to stir up school spirit. Yet, despite her odd ways Stargirl soon found her way into acceptance and even popularity. And in the process, everyone around her found themselves changing, embracing their individuality. Long-dormant school spirit began to make a come-back.

At first, eleventh-grader Leo Borlock is just curious about this curious new girl. And he watches the changes she's brought to their school, and the changes in the kids within it. Including himself. As Leo tries to process it all, he talks about all of these changes to Archie – his neighborhood's unofficial teacher of unofficial-yet-popular classes. "It's a miracle!" Leo said one day. But Archie said Leo should hope that it's not. "The trouble with miracles is," Archie warned, "they don't last long."

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
Written and illustrated by Bill Watterson
For children and adults

Pictured is the hardcover edition of this collection, which contains every Calvin and Hobbes cartoon that ever appeared in syndication. The cartoons ran in newspapers from November 1985 through Watterson's retirement in 1996.

Calvin is a precocious six-year-old boy whose larger-than-life ideas and deeds are frequently at odds with the expectations of his parents, his teacher Miss Wormwood, and Susie – the neighborhood girl and classmate Calvin outwardly taunts and inwardly kind-of-maybe likes. Calvin's best buddy, partner in misadventure, and part-time conscience is Hobbes the tiger. Hobbes, who is quite real with Calvin, appears to everyone else as merely a stuffed tiger. Together, boy and tiger get into and out of loads of trouble, contemplate life and the universe, and generally live life to the fullest, having a blast as they go.

The Adventures of Captain Underpants: The First Epic Novel
Written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey
Ages 7 and up

George Beard and Harold Hutchins are best friends, next-door neighbors, and fellow fourth-graders at Jerome Horowitz Elementary School. They have a love of silliness and pranks that tends to get them into more than their fair share of trouble. They also have a love of creating and drawing comics (George writes, Harold draws), and their best creation, hands down, has to be The Amazing Captain Underpants.

When their principal and arch-nemesis, Mr. Krupps, busts George and Harold for a particularly big prank, the boys can't see a way to ever be free from his dastardly punishments. But then they see a back-of-the-magazine ad for a 3-D Hypno-Ring. Four-to-six weeks later, what seemed like a perfect (and prankish) plan for rescuing themselves from the miseries of those principalian punishments takes a very unexpected turn...

* * *

Wasn't that fun? And not a lick of unlucky 13's in the bunch (as promised).

Before you go, I'll leave you with this:

"Blessed are the weird people – poets, misfits, writers, mystics, painters, troubadours – for they teach us to see the world through different eyes."
                         – Jacob Nordby 

Be sure to come back next Friday, where the focus is on characters who are not as all-on-their-own as one may expect.


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