Top Ten Oddest Characters in Children’s Novels – Chae Strathie

 Chae Strathie From the talented hands of Chae Strathie (of award winning Jumblebum fame) is a collection of … the Top Ten Oddest Characters in kid’s novels!


Kid’s books are abound with the most amazing, bizarre and absolutely wonderful characters … but which ones stand out as the truly oddest??

Is your favourite oddest character in this Top Ten? If not, add yours via the comment section below.

1. The Stinky Cheese ManThe Stinky Cheese Man And Other Fairly Stupid Tales – Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith

A little boy. Made of smelly cheese. With olives for eyes and bacon for a mouth. Strange? Just a little. The fact the old woman and man don’t even bother chasing him and he ends up abruptly falling apart in the middle of a river just makes it even more deliciously (or stinkily) odd.

Doubtful Guest

2. The Doubtful GuestThe Doubtful Guest – Edward Gorey

Some may say Edward Gorey’s unsettling pictorial tales are not intended for children, and certainly a small person of a fragile disposition may be given a bad case of the collywobbles by some of the darker ones. But hardier youngsters could easily handle a literary visit from The Doubtful Guest, a mysterious and mischievous . . . thing, who enters the life of a Victorian family for reasons that are hard to fathom. Nice line in scarves and baseball boots.

3. The BFGThe BFG – Roald Dahl

There are so many potential candidates for this list that emanate from the mind of Roald Dahl that it’s hard to choose just one, so I won’t. First up is the BFG. Yes, he’s friendly (and big – clue’s in the name). Yes, he’s helpful and brave. But he’s also a 24-foot-tall OAP with abnormally large ears who creeps around at night blowing dust at sleeping children. The way he speaks and his flatulence issue do nothing to dispel the aura of weirdness – or the aroma of snozzcumbers.

4. Vermicious KnidsCharlie and the Great Glass Elevator – Roald Dahl

Next, I’m going for a lesser known Dahl creation – some very odd aliens (Dahliens?) Vermicious Knids are huge, dark, egg-shaped beings who do not have any teeth, but swallow their victims whole. Strange enough, but they also have a habit of shaping themselves to spell the word “SCRAM” – the only word they know – before they attack, allowing potential victims to escape. If only bears and sharks did the same the world would be a safer place.

5. StruwwelpeterStruwwelpeter – Heinrich Hoffmann

This German children’s book is made up of 10 rhyming stories. Each has a moral that demonstrates the pretty extreme consequences of not behaving oneself. There’s the girl who cried her eyes out – literally – for instance, or the boy who has his thumbs chopped off by a man with a huge pair of scissors. The stories may be weird and disturbing, but the illustrations really take the freaky biscuit. Struwwelpeter himself is depicted as a creepy and oddly stocky child with hair like Phil Spector and two-foot long sharpened fingernails. Sweet dreams . . .

Cheshire Cat

6. The Cheshire CatAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland

I love cats – I have several – but even I would be hard pushed to remain unflustered if one of them started disappearing until only its toothy grin remained. And the whole “Look, I’m just a head” caper would just give me the heebie-jeebies. I like my cats whole, thank you very much.

7. StanleyFlat Stanley – Jeff Brown

It was a terrible accident, it really was. Who could have known that a bulletin board could squash someone perfectly flat? And of course, it wasn’t the young lad’s fault. He was very stoic about the whole thing. But there’s something undeniably unnatural about an inch-thin boy going about his business, being posted in envelopes, sliding under doors and the like. I bear him no ill will, but if he was staying in my house, I’d be putting a draught excluder at the bottom of my bedroom door.

8. EeyoreWinnie The Pooh – AA Milne

Not in any way creepy-odd, the melancholic donkey is unusual in that he is delightfully depressive. To have such a pessimistic presence in a book aimed at young children is refreshing and fun for the adult reading to the child. It’s all about the light and shade, people. Oh to be able to write characters like old Alan Alexander . . .


9. The HattifattenersThe Moomins – Tove Jansson

The Hattifatteners are described thus: “Tall, thin, ghost-like creatures, resembling long white socks. They have round neckless heads. They are silent and serious, having neither the ability to talk nor to hear, but they can sense even the most minor tremblings of the ground.” That the Hattifatteners stand out in a world that also features the frankly terrifying Groke and those strange, mouthless hippo-trolls is testament to their supreme peculiarity.

10. Almost everything Dr Seuss created

The good doctor sent the weirdometer of the scale with his characters. Too myriad to single any one out, they are the apex of strange. Where do you begin? The Star-Belly Sneetches? The Sort-of-a-Hen? The hairy Wickersham Brothers? Bippo-No-Bungus? The Foona Lagoona Baboona? The names alone cause an immediate OOD (oddness overdose). Oh, and his name is pronounced “Zoice”, not “Soos”, as I just discovered.

Is your favourite oddest character in this Top Ten? If not, add yours via the comment section below.


Look out! Chae will be treating young bookworms in Brighton and Hove to a series of free events in June 2014 as part of the Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour. For more information visit or follow @booksontour

Did you know? Chae is well known for his picture books for younger readers, including the award-winning The Loon In The Moon & The Fabulous Flapdoodles. He’s currently working on a series of books for older children. His most recent book, Jumblebum, illustrated by Ben Cort of Aliens Love Underpants fame, was released in  January 2013 and won a Scottish Children’s Book Award in March 2014 as well as being Highly Commended at the Sheffield Children’s Book Awards.

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