Children’s Book Review: The Squickerwonkers by Evangeline Lilly, illustrated by Johnny Fraser-Allen

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.

The Squickerwonkers, Volume 1Selma 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.

Publication info:

The Squickerwonkers
Written by Evangeline Lilly; illustrated by Johnny Fraser-Allen
Published by Titan Books; November 18, 2014
32 pages (hardcover)

Children’s Book Review: The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman

If you read my review of The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, then you probably know how much I love the pair of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. I adore Neil Gaiman’s writing, and Dave McKean’s illustrations are phenomenal (I’m a little bit obsessed with his illustrations).

The Wolves in the Walls cover

This book was the same for the most part. I LOVED McKean’s illustrations – even though they were quite creepy throughout the book. This is definitely not a book for really young kids. At times, it even reminded me a little of Arkham Asylum because of how crazy and creepy the illustrations were.

If the wolves come out of the walls, then it’s all over.

The Wolves in the Walls 1

The point of the book, I believe, was to emphasize just how silly fear can be sometimes. In essence, the book is about a young girl named Lucy who hears some scratching and noises in the walls in her house and believes that it is wolves. Her family thinks she’s crazy for thinking so, but then one day what happens? The wolves come out of the walls. Lucy’s family retreats out into the woods for fear of being eaten and the wolves take up residence in the house. Until they begin to hear noises in the walls as well.

The Wolves in the Walls 2

Fear is a silly thing and most of the time the noises you hear are really nothing more than a branch on your window or the wind pushing up against an old house. The biggest monsters are usually the easiest to be rid of.

Awesome illustrations, interesting story, wonderful book.

Publication info:

The Wolves in the Walls

Written by Neil Gaiman; illustrated by Dave McKean

Published by HarperCollins; July 2005

56 pages (hardcover)

Book Review: Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

Fortunately, I was able to read this book. It is a delightfully light, funny, and enjoyable read. When the book begins, the mother of a young boy and his little sister leaves for a trip. The family runs out of milk, so the father sets out to the corner shop to buy some. He is gone for a rather long time, and when he gets back he tells them that he was on his way home when he was abducted by aliens who wanted to redecorate the planet. He manages to escape, but meets a bunch of pirates, and so on and so forth until he finally makes it back home.

Fortunately, the Milk aliens

Fortunately, the story was completely engrossing and lovely. It is a whimsical tale of pirates, vampires, dinosaurs who are professors and world-renown for their time travel, piranhas, aliens, and more. The story is funny, creative, and full of adventure.

Fortunately, the Milk Piranhas

Fortunately, Skottie Young is a wonderful illustrator and brought this story to life. The illustrations complement the silliness and craziness of this story perfectly. Everything feels a little over the top, much like the story does. Young’s illustrations make the story the father weaves feel as entertaining and as wild as the father’s story itself. So much fun! Also, I don’t know if it was just me, but the kids’ dad kind of looks like the Fourth Doctor. It can’t just be me, right?

Fortunately, the Milk Dad Fortunately, the Milk Dad smirk

Fortunately, I can buy a copy of this book for myself (I checked it out from the library).

Fortunately, the Milk Dad and Professor StegFortunately, the Milk Cover
Publication info:

Fortunately, the Milk

Written by Neil Gaiman; illustrated by Skottie Young

Published by HarperCollins; September 2013

114 pages (hardcover)

 

SUNDAY FUNDAY: WEEK IN REVIEW [8]

The lovely Cristina over at Girl in the Pages started Sunday Funday as a way to recap the bookish (and not-so-bookish) things that have happened that week.

July 14 – 20, 2014

This week I went to see The Neighbourhood with my friend Jugee Georgie in Nashville. I had a super crazy week at work because of it, but I had an amazing time. It was my fourth time seeing them play live, and my third time meeting Jesse, the lead singer. He remembered me and was super wonderful. I had a blast, and it was totally worth the 2.5 hours of sleep I got and the 12 hours of driving in 24 hours.

IMG_8487

My interview with Lori Rader-Day, who wrote The Black Hour (which I LOVED), went up on WatchPlayRead! I loved the opportunity to learn more about her and her writing.

Coming up on the blog this week: Two children’s book reviews (Ox-Cart Man and The Dreamer); four comic book reviews (Saga [volume 2] and The Walking Dead, volumes 1-3); one book review (One Past Midnight) – possibly two; Top Ten Tuesday; Waiting on Wednesday – woah. A LOT coming up on the blog this week. 🙂

Books read: This week I read Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman; Saga [volume 2] by Brian K. Vaughan; Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest by Matt Haig; and several children’s books. I also started listening to an audiobook for the first time; I chose The Dead Father’s Club by Matt Haig and I am seriously loving it so far – the narrator is just perfect.

TBR: I had my first ever comic book haul this week! I’ve added all of those to my TBR obviously. I also checked out Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman and the audiobook of A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon from the library. I’m definitely looking forward to both of those.

I have a long (45 minutes or so) commute to each of my jobs so I’ve really enjoyed listening to an audiobook on the way. It makes the drive seem a lot shorter and I get to read/listen to even more books now! I never thought I’d enjoy audiobooks, but I definitely do.

Non-bookish things I’m excited about:

I just found out that Tom Felton is in this new show on TNT called Murder in the First; I’m not sure how I missed this, but all of the first six episodes are on Comcast’s On Demand, so I know what I’ll be catching up on this week.

Teen Wolf. Always.

What happened to you guys this week? Did you read any good books? Tell me about your week in the comments!

Book Review: The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish

“I’ll swap you my dad,” I said.
“Oh-oh,” said my little sister.

What if you wanted your best friend’s two goldfish so much that you’d swap anything for them, even your father?

What if your mother came home and found out what you’d done?

The Day I Swapped My Dad... Cover

So when I decided to start reading children’s books again, I immediately checked out The Day I Swapped by Dad for Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman from the library. I mean, it’s Neil Gaiman. I wasn’t disappointed. It is a wonderful book.

I laughed out loud more times than I thought possible for a book so short. It was very funny. The idea for the book is silly in and of itself. A boy wants to trade anything he can for his friend Nathan’s two goldfish. Nathan rejects everything until the boy offers to trade his dad. This is when the fun begins: the boy realizes that the goldfish are boring and that this trade was a bad idea, so he and his sister set off to swap the goldfish back. Unfortunately, the boy’s father has been traded off to someone else, and the pair must track down where their father is now.

I liked this book especially because it feels so childlike. What I mean by that is the book evokes just how weird kid’s thoughts are. The book is weird and strange and great. I feel like part of the reason I liked it so much was that I could relate to the family dynamic. Who hasn’t had silly fights with their younger sibling? And the dad: he’s completely oblivious to everything that’s happening because he’s reading the paper. So funny.

I enjoyed the story, but I really loved the illustrations. McKean perfectly combines mediums to create enchanting works of art that convey the message in the book so well. An example:

The Day I... 2

He’s combined actual pictures of goldfish along with his drawings. In other parts he uses pages of books as the background. McKean’s illustrations are a feast for the eyes to accompany the enchanting story. Wonderful.

I just wanted to include this illustration because I’m pretty much in love with it. I don’t know why I like it so much other than the fact it’s so fun!

The Day I... 5

I would recommend this book to any fans of Neil Gaiman or of awesome illustrations. I will say that I think this book is more suited to older children.

Publication info:

The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish

Written by Neil Gaiman; illustrated by Dave McKean

Published by HarperCollins; August 2004

64 pages (hardcover)

The Day I... 4

*chuckles at pun*