The Quirks : Welcome to Normal by Erin Soderberg

cover image

Bloomsbury, 2013. ISBN 9781408841716.
(Age: 8-12) Recommended. The Quirks are a refreshingly 'quirky' family. In 'The Addams family' tradition with a bit of the Freek Street series appeal, without the colourful illustrations, I found myself chuckling out loud as I read, as will the targeted 8-12 audience.
The Quirk family have just moved in to a perfectly ordinary looking house in Normal Michigan, however this is not your usual family. Grandpa, Quilliam Quirk has the ability to rewind time, which can come in handy when things go wrong. Grandmother is a tiny fairy. Mother, Bree, is able to control minds, Penelope has an over active imagination and her thoughts become real. Finnegan, the smallest Quirk has become invisible and only Molly can see him. Molly, Penelope's twin, has no obvious quirks, and desperately wants to fit in, to be normal, to be invited to sleepovers and to settle in one place.
Having to start at a new school is always a drama but more so for Penelope and Molly. Penelope's overactive imagination causes havoc the more stressed she becomes. Bringing the animal stickers on the desks to life is just the beginning, though handling the class bully was more satisfying. Molly spends her time either calming Penelope or distracting her classmates to give Penelope a chance to get her thoughts under control.
Molly becomes more stressed as Finn discovers that chewing gum makes him visible and consequently he has to go to school. There he decides being visible is no fun and rebels by occasionally becoming invisible and playing tricks. When his pranks get out of hand Molly is sure they will be forced to move on. Saving the Normal Day celebrations is their only hope. As Molly learns to appreciate her quirky family, the reader is left wondering how normal is Normal.
The design of the book beginning with a warning, Contents page on the side, Chapter titles at different angles and page numbers in balloons wandering up and down the margins and the occasional illustrations add to the enjoyment. The Epilogue is a scene reminiscent of the nosy neighbour in Bewitched heralding the next complication in the Quirks' efforts to settle in Normal.
Sue Keane