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Filbert the Good Little Fiend by Hiawyn Oram

Filbert the Good Little Fiend, (Candlewick Press, $15.99, ages 3-5) by Hiawyn Oram with illustrations by Jimmy Liao, is reviewed by Ronna Mandel.

SO GOOD HE’S BAD!

Filbert the Good Little FiendWhat are a FEROCIOUSLY fiendish Daddy Fiend and FIERCELY fiendish Mommy Fiend supposed to do when their little fiend, Filbert, is so good, so very, very good?

“He won’t say BOO to a goose,
MOO to a moose, or PANTS to an ant.
He’s no little fiend of mine!”

Filbert’s folks insisted he be gruesome and ghastly but it just wasn’t in him to behave like that. He couldn’t be “BOTHERSOME and BEASTLY.” He preferred kind words and caring to hollering and scaring and no one seemed to be happy about this including his teacher, Miss Fearsome-Frizz. Rather than get in a purple-paint fight in class, Filbert hid in the bathroom. This blatant lack of participation earned Filbert the Fearsome-Frizz’s ire so he was sent out to the Good Spot until he could learn to behave “like a proper little fiend.” Well as luck would have it, a little angel kicked out of Angel School crashed landed near the Good Spot where Filbert was relaxing.

Together the two figured out that by temporarily trading clothes and personalities they could give their parents and friends what they’d been asking for. And we all know that sometimes you have to be careful what you ask for. And then what?  In the case of Florinda the not-quite-perfect little angel and Filbert the not-so-fearsome little fiend, their point was cleverly made. The old Florinda and Filbert were welcomed back and accepted for who they were because as the saying goes, better the fiend you know!!

I like the idea of the role reversal portrayed by the main characters as a way for parents to start the conversation about celebrating individuality. I’d certainly recommend Oram’s story, with its alliteration and irony, to read-aloud for story time. Couple that with Liao’s glowing Autumn-hued artwork, a delightful color collision of Sendak meets Scheffler, and you’ve got a picture book perfect for every little monster you know.

Odd is the New Normal: Meet Cecil Castellucci

Ronna Mandel interviews Odd Duck author Cecil Castellucci. Odd Duck, published by :01 First Second Books, $15.99, ages 6-10, is illustrated by Sara Varon.

mail-3Cecil Castellucci, an L.A. author, has written everything from picture books to young adult novels. Her latest projects are Odd Duck and Letters for Kids, a bi-monthly subscription program through The Rumpus. In Odd Duck we meet Theodora and Chad, neighbor ducks who both waddle to the beat of a different drum yet actually have tons in common. Although the two become BFFs each one thinks the other is the strange one. Upon overhearing someone call one of them, odd, Theodora and Chad clash over which duck was being referred to. This winning picture book is a salute to individuality and uniqueness, a recurring theme for Castellucci.

mail-2How much of you is in Theodora?

I think all of me is in Theodora and Chad. It took a long time for me to figure out that my oddness was also what made me interesting.

Why do you think opposites Theodora and Chad attract?

I have always been a big fan of opposites. Some of my favorite friendships are the ones where we see the world in a similar way but we like radically different things. In Odd Duck, Chad and Theodora might move through the world very differently, but I think fundamentally they feel the same way about things.

Why do people shy away from what they don’t consider “normal”?

It’s hard to be odd. I’m no psychologist, but I think that we tend to gravitate toward groups to feel safer and that is what “normal” means. But I think that being odd is normal to other odd people. So I say, find your odd tribe and you will be “normal”! Because I think really there is no such thing as normal. And I think that everyone on the entire planet is a little odd about something.

Learn more about Cecil Castellucci and her other books at misscecil.com. For info about Letters for Kids and more about Odd Duck, read the extended interview at LAParent.com.

Find the extended interview at LAParent.com and remember to pick up their new May issue.

Click here for the link to my review of Castellucci’s First Day on Earth, a fantastic YA novel from 2011.

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