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The 5 Misfits: 12/29/19

The 5 Misfits

The 5 Misfits by Beatrice Alemagna is a picture book about a group of unusual individuals living together in the woods where they are out of the way of the more critical and "normal people." Along comes a visitor who of course criticizes everything they do or don't do or how they look. They end up for a little while feeling bad about themselves. But they come to their senses and kick the intruder out.

I read this picture book initially for the road narrative spectrum project. I thought these five could be a proxy siblings (CC), maybe a mixture of scarecrows and minotaurs (99), marginalized (66), or a family (33). They might but there is no sense of the road — the route. Also, the focus is more on how divergent this five are, rather than on how their lives change by the intrusion of a visitor off the road.

So these five misfits — they are poorly defined in terms of a greater world. Their narrative could have been presented as diversity as the norm in their house. It could have been a positive take on living with disabilities. But it isn't — that message is saved as the moral at the end.

Instead, their introduction is framed against normality. When Mr. Perfect arrives, he is the paragon for this world's normal.

At the same time, he's presented as extravagant. He's dressed in pink trousers, fluorescent hair. He's an abusive dandy. He spends his entire time at their home telling them how worthless they are.

Beyond the upbeat moral about being true to yourself and embracing your differences, the book does nothing to point out that Mr. Perfect wasn't invited, is abusive, is perhaps not a good example of what the rest of society is like.

Two stars

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