The Quirks: Welcome to Normal, by Erin Soderberg

The Quirks: Welcome to Normal, by Erin Soderberg (Bloomsbury, June 4, 2013)

The Quirk family is relentlessly quirky.  They can't help being magical--a grandpa who can turn back time, a mother who can manipulate peoples minds,  Penelope, who unintentionally manifests whatever she's imagining, and little brother Finn, who's invisible.  Only Molly, Penelope's twin sister, is ordinary.

And Normal, the town the Quirk family has just moved to, is ordinary as all get out.  Molly and Penelope desperately want to stay in one place for once in their lives--they've had to flee countless towns before, when things got to strange.   But if Penelope can't control her imagination,  and its rather noticeable funny/awful consequences,  it's goodbye to Normal.

Magic meets the everyday world...and the consequence are embarrassment. 

This is a good one for the kid who likes light-hearted stories, that aren't realistic but which are set firmly in our world.   It's easy to tell the author had fun with Penelope's runaway imagination, and kids will get lots of grins from it.  The (nicely present, but not underlined) theme of trying to fit in, while still being yourself, is a more serious counterpart to the overt humor.

It's very much an elementary book--excellent for third and fourth graders, of the type who enjoyed Dan Gutman's Weird School series and are ready for something the next notch up.

On a personal reader-reaction note-- most of the book I spent in a state of anxious squirm.   There are many embarrassing situations when Penelope's magic gets out of control, and as a parent, I was perturbed by the mother's neglect of invisible Finn.  Just because Molly is the only one in the family who can see him doesn't mean that poor Finn should be practically ignored by everyone else.   But I am well aware that this is an adult reaction--the target audience will probably not care that Finn hasn't been bathed for ages. 

Disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher


  1. Ha. I'm with you on the person reaction front: it's the reason I don't like I Love Lucy. Try as I might, I can't get past the fact that she's always about to do the most embarrassing thing possible, and I wince for her!

  2. My 2nd grader would love this. She loves weird school.


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