The class field trip to Philadelphia doesn’t go well from the beginning. Most of the students get to ride on a deluxe coach with comfy seats, air conditioning, and a DVD player, but Nick ends up on the overflow bus—a patched-together old minibus—with kids he never talks to.
At the museum, Nick’s friend Jay accidentally alerts the teachers that Cookie, the most popular girl in school, has left the building without permission. Nick knows that she will make both of them pay.
And then on the way home, Nick’s bus careens off the road and flips over in a ditch. When he opens his eyes, he’s lying in a wet field, 15 feet from the overturned bus.
After the accident, Nick and the other kids on that bus discover they now have something in common. Not just the scratches and bruises. They each possess a strange new superpower.
Martina can change the color of her eyes.
Farshad has gained super strength—but only in his thumbs.
Cookie can read people’s minds—but only if they’re thinking about directions.
And Nick himself can teleport—but only 4 inches to the left.
Together they need to figure out what happened to them, where the bus driver disappeared to, and how to stay safe from their substitute teacher—whose own new superpower seems to involve setting off explosions.
Anna’s take on it:
I have so much fun booktalking The Mighty Odds for fifth and sixth graders. When I was working on my booktalk for this title, I came up with other bizarre superpowers and wrote them on popsicle sticks. After talking about the book, I let a handful of kids draw out a popsicle stick and learn their new superpower. The kids love it. Absolutely love it. Even sixth graders who are trying to act too cool for reading can’t resist. The first time I tried this out, I had 97 kids in the room. They’d been a quiet crowd and I wasn’t sure they were really engaging with the booktalks. But when I offered the superpowers, they were so excited—and clearly right with me. They just wished I had 97 to hand out..
Here are the superpowers I offer:
You can run nearly as fast as a cheetah, but only while being chased by a cheetah.
You can understand all languages, but only while running backwards.
You can breathe under water, but only within sight of a shark.
You can travel back in time, but only when wearing a gorilla suit.
You become smarter than Einstein, but only while holding a python
You have super hearing, but only for insect noises.
You can fly, but only with your eyes closed.
You can melt metal, but only with your nose.
You can communicate by telepathy, but only while singing 1980s songs.