Who doesn’t want to be cool? It’s something we strive for from our earliest years, once we realize that we have a self-imposed responsibility to impress others and be the center of attention. The cool ones, after all, have the best lives, with the best things, and the most awesome friends… or so we let ourselves think.
The Odd 1s Out has the perfect subtitle: How to Be Cool and Other Things I Definitely Learned from Growing Up. A book that never takes itself seriously, the subtitle tells the reader everything they need to know and that this will be a tale of never learning how to be cool, no matter how hard author James Rallison tried. And, the 22-year-old YouTube star has some amazingly wise words to impart on the reader.
“Cool doesn’t necessarily mean happy. You gave up happiness when you started caring about what other people think.”
Out of all of the quotable lines in the book, this is the most poignant and oh-so-true. We spend our lives trying to get approval from others, but that quest excludes happiness. And, Rallison has so much more to teach the reader. He has hit upon a subject that will always be timely.
It’s not just the morals and lessons learned from the book that make it so outstanding. Humor thrives on every page, with every story taken from Rallison’s childhood and through his captivating illustrations. With almost every tale, I nodded my head and laughed, remembering my own antics in that particular part of life, such as eating the three-pound bag of Skittles and subsequently vomiting rainbows. From finding cool clothes to wear to trying to beat out the “cool kids” at laser tag and beyond, there are stories to which anyone could relate. Each one is relayed in such a humorous manner that it’s hard to stop smiling while reading. When the book ends, it’s bittersweet, giving the reader the strong desire to dip back into his quirky world and relive it all over again.
As for that artwork, it’s what brought him fame on YouTube – drawing cartoons with these characters – and rightfully so. Playful, fun characters guide the reader through the tales and add so much to the book. He uses them not just as a supplement to the words on the page, but, in many instances, as part of the story. It brings another level of enjoyment to the book, and I can envision him writing many more books with his characters. Besides, who doesn’t like pictures in books?
Though directed more at youth and teens, this book is perfect for all ages. It brought me back to what I thought was a simpler time, only to remind me o fhow complicated and stressful being a kid is when you’re trying to fit in and, occasionally, stand out. Rallison lets others know that they are not alone in the mission to be cool, but maybe that’s not what life should be about. Even as adults, it is an important lesson of which we all need reminding.
Creative Team: James Rallison (Author and Illustrator)
Publisher: TarcherPerigee (an imprint of Penguin Random House)
Click here to purchase.