When I saw that Evangeline Lilly was writing a book, I got pretty excited. I loved her in Lost (my favorite TV show) and The Hobbit movies. The summary of The Squickerwonkers was full of delicious made up words, mischief, and marionettes. What’s not to like? I ordered it for my library, and then checked it out before anyone else could. Whoops.
Selma of the Rin-Run Royals is a clever, but very spoiled little girl who finds herself at a marionette show – The Squickerwonker show – full of interesting characters, including Greer the Greedy (a kleptomaniac who hides her treasure in her hair), Andy the Arrogant (a gorgeous man who’s dumb as a brick), and Gillis the Gluttonous (with “a body of doughnuts and pie.” Haha!). Selma throws a tantrum when one of the Squickerwonkers pops her balloon, and what follows is definitely not what Selma bargained for.
This is not a book for a very young child, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t wonderful. I’d recommend this to somewhat older children (maybe 6 and up or so), who’ll be able to understand what a horrible little girl Selma is. Younger children might get scared at the illustrations. It’s a book perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman. Personally, I love that the story is creepy and dark and I think kids will appreciate it too.
I enjoyed the story, but the illustrations were what sold me. They are imaginative, colorful (but colored in dark hues, like browns, reds, greens, and purples), detailed, and strange painted illustrations. Fraser-Allen has worked on Stephen Spielberg’s Tintin and Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit Trilogy, which goes to show how talented he is. The book is imaginative and wonderfully illustrated; it is certainly different from a lot of picture books these days, but in the best way. I’ll be looking forward to the sequel.
Written by Evangeline Lilly; illustrated by Johnny Fraser-Allen
Published by Titan Books; November 18, 2014
32 pages (hardcover)