Renee Mihulka – Children's Book Reviews & Writer

The Quirks in Circus Quirkus

the quirks circusOVERALL: 3.5 3.5 Stars

Bridget’s Rating: 3.5 3.5 Stars

Concept:3.5 Stars
Characters:4.5 Stars
Plot:4 Stars
Writing:4 Stars

 

Erin Soderberg
Kelly Light
2014
Bloomsbury
240

 

Description: This is the second book in The Quirks series, a story about a magical family that is trying to fit in and appear normal; in, of all places, a town called Normal. The story is told through the eyes of Molly who is in Grade 4 and the only one of the Quirks, who doesn’t have a ‘Quirk’ (a magical power). As a sort of compensation however, she is also the only one immune to the quirks of her twin sister Penelope, her younger brother Finn, her grandparents and her mother. This book centres on the exciting events that occur when a circus comes to town.

Concept: What kid doesn’t want a super power? And what kid doesn’t have some sort of ‘quirk’, though I bet it’s less exciting than being invisible or turning back time? This book takes on the idea that most kids feel different and find it hard to fit in but it illustrates it using magical powers and the difficulty of hiding and controlling them. It tries to inject some magic and unpredictability in to the lives of a loving family that is a bit different from the norm. It also covers the idea that sometimes, not everyone turns out to be the person you think they are.

Characters: Some of the characters in this book were lively, interesting and well drawn – namely Finn and Molly. However others were a bit limp and forced, like their mother. Penelope, Molly’s twin was the worst of all, filled with angst and self doubt at every turn, which to me didn’t seem believable nor necessary. However I do think that the mix of characters was good, especially the inclusion of those meant for comic relief – it is a kids book after all!

Plot: I think that this was the weakest area of this book. A lot of the time the scenes with the ‘nosy’ neighbour and the possibility of their powers being discovered were forced and repetitive. Likewise, there were no real surprises in the plot. I think that there could have been better ways to illustrate how their powers get them in trouble and more about how they used them for good, rather than for mischief of by accident. Soderberg could have played on the idea of using your quirks/differences as strengths more.

Writing: This book is well written. It is easy to read and uses appropriate and interesting language.

PARENTS:
This is a good book for your younger, competent readers. It’s contents are light but it still manages to cover some of the real issues that may face your children as they grow up, namely feeling different and being compelled to hide this from others.

Things to ask and discuss:

1) Talk about how it would feel to have a secret like the Quirks? How would they handle it? Would they try to hide it from everyone?

2) You can talk about Mrs Deville and how getting to know her changed everything. This can lead to discussions of not judging a book by its cover and how people can be misunderstood.

3) It’s always fun to have a hypothetical conversation about what super power you would like and why? List the pros and cons of your decision and image what it would be like to actually live with it.

Come on comment, you know you wanna.

Book Reviews and Writer