Odd Man Out

Groundwood Books
School & Library Binding
160 Pages
ISBN: 0888997035
Reading age from 9 to 12

Kip is spending the summer with his grandmother and his five eccentric girl cousins, including Emily, who thinks she’s a dog. Gran’s house is about to be demolished, so anything goes, whether it’s drawing maps on the wall or sawing off the banister for a smoother ride. When Kip bashes through an old closet, he discovers the binder his late father kept as a teenager. He’s bewildered by what he finds: puzzling lists, hair samples, old newspaper clippings and business cards — all accompanying a confidential report written by a mysterious young operative who is carrying out a secret plan to infect teenagers with a cell-altering virus.

Where did this book come from?
Once I was visiting a school and a grade seven boy asked me to consider writing a book about espionage. I’m not that interested in espionage (although I like the gadgets and the mysterious secrecy of it all) but I did find myself thinking a lot about a boy who was, himself, interested in espionage and spies. That boy turned into Kip. The other thing that is behind this book is my love for stories that have a group of kids in them, like Cheaper by the Dozen or the Casson family stories by Hilary McKay and I wanted to try such a book myself. A gang of five girl cousins is the result. I also like island stories so I put them all on an island.

Winner of the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize and the TD CCBC Canadian Children’s Literature Award