Books by Chris Riddell

THE RABBITS' REBELLION by Ariel Dorfman
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 19, 2019

"A wickedly funny allegory for today's post-truth era. (Fantasy. 4-10)"
A narcissistic Wolf King insists that rabbits don't exist in this allegory. Read full book review >
A KID IN MY CLASS by Rachel Rooney
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 13, 2018

"Charming, fun to read, and thought provoking. (author's note) (Poetry. 7-12)"
A group of children and a few adults are introduced individually in poems that highlight a single aspect of each one's personality, preferences, and foibles. Read full book review >
OTTOLINE AND THE PURPLE FOX by Chris Riddell
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2018

"Mannered but pleasantly peculiar. (Graphic fantasy. 10-12)"
In her fourth adventure a young sleuth makes new friends both human and otherwise, organizes a costume party, and fosters a romance. Read full book review >
THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK by Lewis Carroll
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2018

"A handsome volume, but at best it's just an outtake in the Western European literary tradition. (Poetry. 11-13, adult)"
Deceptively harmless-looking monsters and caricatures in fantastical period dress add broad comic notes to Carroll's tale of a party of bumbling hunters in search of a fabled quarry. Read full book review >
ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS by Neil Gaiman
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Oct. 4, 2016

"A rare tale that values brains over brawn—light, bright, and handsomely tricked out. (Fantasy. 8 & up)"
Lavish use of black and silver ink, plus Riddell's larger-than-life figures, adds swash aplenty to this new edition of Gaiman's 2009 spin on a Norse myth, originally illustrated by Brett Helquist. Read full book review >
GOTH GIRL AND THE GHOST OF A MOUSE by Chris Riddell
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2016

"A promising start to a weird new series. (Mystery. 8-12)"
Ada Goth solves a mystery. Read full book review >
THE SLEEPER AND THE SPINDLE by Neil Gaiman
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 22, 2015

"If this book isn't quite a masterpiece, it's certainly a treasure, and that's more than enough. (Fairy tale. 11-18)"
Is it fair to expect a masterpiece when Gaiman and Riddell work together? Probably. Read full book review >
A GREAT BIG CUDDLE by Michael Rosen
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 22, 2015

"Despite (or perhaps because of) the odd bits, this book successfully celebrates the private, gleeful, imaginative world of toddlers. (Picture book/poetry. 1-5)"
Short poems and accompanying illustrations make up this word-format poetry anthology for little ones. Read full book review >
THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN by Russell Brand
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 11, 2014

"A smart, funny, iconoclastic take on an old classic. (Fantasy. 8-12)"
The well-known legend is brought to life once more by one of the U.K.'s most famed comics. Read full book review >
RETURNER'S WEALTH by Paul Stewart
YOUNG ADULT
Released: Sept. 3, 2013

"Red meat for rabid dragon lovers, but younger fans of the authors' Edge Chronicles may be discomfited by the gruesome bits and steamy clinches. (Fantasy. 12-16)"
A young wanderer enters the Wyrmeweald—a mountainous land of sudden death, untold riches, and dragons, dragons, dragons—in this grim trilogy opener. Read full book review >
THE IMMORTALS by Paul Stewart
ADVENTURE
Released: Sept. 14, 2010

Stewart and Riddell cap their Edge Chronicles with a large-scale grand tour and cast reunion. Several generations after the events in Freeglader (2004), young orphan Nate Quarter is forced to flee for his life from a murderous mine supervisor—which becomes more or less a theme as, acquiring such doughty companions as the mine owner's intrepid daughter Eudoxia and Librarian Knight Zelphyius Dax along the way, he comes and goes from Great Glade and several other cities or settlements that have grown up in the vast Deep Woods that border the overhanging Edge of the world. The long journey takes him through multiple battles, chases, rescues and political upheavals to mystical encounters with figures from the past in the ever-dark Night Woods and then on to a climax in the restored airborne city of Sanctaphrax. A huge cast teeming with multiple races of uneasily coexistent goblins, trolls and more, plus Dementor-ish gloamglozers and other deadly predators are all depicted in lovingly minute (and occasionally gruesome) detail in Riddell's many pen-and-ink portraits and add plenty of color to this vigorous sendoff. (Fantasy. 11-13)Read full book review >
WENDEL’S WORKSHOP by Chris Riddell
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 1, 2010

Young Wendel is a mouse and an inventor. Like many an inventor before him, he creates a robotic creature to save him from cleaning up after himself. Wendel is an unintentionally thoughtless slob: a slob because he throws his failures on a metastasizing junk pile, thoughtless because one of those failures is a sweet, well-meaning if inept, lantern-jawed automaton—Clunk by name—that, rather alarmingly, is dumped in the rubbish chute. When Clunk's replacement, Wendelbot, a blockheaded anal-retentive, runs predictably amok, giving Wendel a taste of the rubbish chute, it is Clunk and an appealingly ragtag gang of ready-mades fashioned from the scrapheap by Wendel that convince Wendelbot to self-destruct. Riddell nimbly plays on readers' sympathies for emotionally vulnerable, snaggletooth robots, but that is about it as far as the story line goes, which fails to display any of the inventiveness Wendel would expect—no fun twist, nothing clever or resourceful built from scant means. The artwork, however, doesn't disappoint, with its busy, sure-handed line and snappy coloring. A pretty face, undeniably, but void of hidden depths. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
THE EMPEROR OF ABSURDIA by Chris Riddell
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 1, 2009

This young emperor has clothing issues; the beginning sentences set the scene: "The Emperor of Absurdia was having the most extraordinary dream. All of a sudden he woke to the hoots of the sky fish nibbling the umbrella trees. He tumbled out of bed [à la a clothed Mickey]...into the arms of the Wardrobe Monster." He searches for his missing snuggly scarf—no luck. He's served breakfast in his high chair, then supper, then lunch—an egg that hatches a dragon! Hunting in his tricycle chair, he finds the baby dragon and mama dragon, who chases him through the pillow hills and under the umbrella trees back to the Wardrobe Monster, at which point he tumbles into bed. Seussian creatures, delicately lined details and playful page compositions with cinematic panels, all rendered in a blue/yellow palette, impel the action. Political cartoonist and Greenaway Medalist Riddell is comfortable in this curious fantasy world as imagination transforms the ordinary bedroom objects of this charming blue-eyed, tousled towhead into extraordinary dreams. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
BARNABY GRIMES by Paul Stewart
ADVENTURE
Released: Sept. 9, 2008

The latest and best Stewart/Riddell collaboration to date is set in a pseudo-Victorian world of stovepipe hats, gamins and smog. Barnaby Grimes is a tick-tock lad by trade: Need a delivery as fast as possible? Barnaby is more than willing to high-stack it over the tops of the city just to send your message fast enough. One night, a near-miss with a nasty wolf on a roof during the light of the full moon and the mysterious disappearance of his friend Old Benjamin together convince Barnaby to investigate the seedy sections of his city and the even seedier secrets of high society. As a mystery, the book telegraphs its punches too obviously, but as an adventure tale it swoops and soars. The classic horror aspects of this werewolf tale may be a bit dark for younger readers, but for any kid who has enjoyed The Spiderwick Chronicles and their like, Stewart offers high-stepping exploits and derring-do aplenty. From the first gripping sentence onward, Barnaby will be sure to rake in the fans. (Horror. 9-12)Read full book review >
OTTOLINE AND THE YELLOW CAT by Chris Riddell
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2008

A tale told in intricate, finely detailed pictures linked by occasional brief bursts of prose introduces Eloise-like young Ottoline, who shares a large apartment with hair-covered sidekick Mr. Munroe, collects odd single shoes and postcards from her parents (who are generally off on travels) and solves mysteries. Here, she concocts an elaborate scheme to track down a gaggle of missing lap dogs and to trap a cat burglar—who actually turns out to be a cat. Children who linger over the illustrations, ink drawings with occasional highlights in red, will find all sorts of odd, precisely depicted household objects and comical details among the gracefully posed human and animal characters. There's an abstract air to the whole episode, but the plot trots along smoothly, and Riddell's distinctive visual style shows off to better effect here than in the cramped art for his Edge Chronicles and other collaborations. Shelve this, the first volume of a projected three, with the graphic novels. (Fiction. 10-12) Read full book review >
MUDDLE EARTH by Paul Stewart
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 14, 2007

The title, an anemic volcano dubbed "Mount Boom" and a late bit of verse are the only connections to Tolkien in this long, lame farce. Summoned away from this world into a land of gossipy trees and miasmic stenches by Randalf the Wise, young Joe runs into farting pigs, greasily entrepreneurial goblins, huge but infantile trolls, a maternal dragon, mighty-thewed Brenda the Warrior Princess, crazed and giggling sorcerer Doctor Cuddles and like characters in his persistent quest to get home. As usual with this pair, Riddell's many expert ink drawings both provide the main draw and are so small that the intricate details are hard to make out. Steer readers with a taste for spoof quest epics to the likes of Terry Pratchett's Discworld tales, Jodi Lynn Anderson's May Bird in the Ever After (2005) or the granddaddy of them all, the Harvard Lampoon's Bored of the Rings (1969). (Fantasy. 11-13)Read full book review >
FERGUS CRANE by Paul Stewart
ADVENTURE
Released: May 23, 2006

The creators of the Edge Chronicles open a new series aimed at a younger audience with this tale of a lad who discovers that his teachers are all pirates. Supplemented with many hand-drawn letters, clippings and scenes drawn in great detail with almost invisibly fine inked lines, the story takes a wandering course as a mechanical flying horse takes Fergus to the mysterious Fateful Voyage Trading Company. There he meets three talking penguins and an inventor uncle he didn't know he had, learns that his father had been lost while searching for fabulously valuable fire diamonds and then travels to a remote archipelago to rescue his classmates, who had been kidnapped by his father's treacherous crew to gather the diamonds from volcanic caverns. Despite the elaborate black-and-white art and frequent artificial efforts to pump up the suspense, readers aren't likely to stay the course; Stewart spends too much time introducing a large cast of characters who mostly just pass in review, and the melodramatic bits don't arrive until very late. Missable. (Fantasy. 10-12)Read full book review >
JONATHAN SWIFT’S GULLIVER by Martin Jenkins
ADVENTURE
Released: March 31, 2005

A handsomely packaged alternative for readers not quite up for the original, this abridgement pairs a toned-down, quicker-moving but otherwise substantially intact version of Gulliver's four voyages with a generous array of vignettes, larger drawings and paintings—all featuring craggy-featured, elaborately clad (except, of course, for the dignified Houyhnhnms and capering but discreetly posed Yahoos) grotesques in extravagantly detailed settings. Along with providing a better showcase for Riddell's distinctive talents than the cramped pages of Paul Stewart's Edge Chronicles, this makes a timely and enticing replacement for James Riordan's partial retelling, illustrated in a lighter, though less sophisticated, vein by Victor G. Ambrus (1992). (Fiction. 10-13)Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 22, 2004

Readers fond of nonstop adventures thickly stocked with variously clawed, tentacled, tusked, venomous, tattooed, insidious, blood-drinking, slime-vomiting plug-uglies will be in hog heaven over this imported series opener, trendily bound in a jacketless pictorial cover. Young Twig has grown up as the foundling child of a peaceable, none-too-bright pair of wood trolls. But he enters a different destiny when he strays off a marked path into the trackless Deepwoods, where challenges as diverse as the aptly named Halitoad, tribble/piranha hybrids dubbed Wigwigs, toothy Bloodoaks, and, most horrible of all, a cooing, preteen, makeover-happy Termagant Trog await. All will be escaped by the skin of his teeth and, as he's not particularly strong, brave, or clever, with the help of mysterious strangers. Rendered in realistic, gloriously obsessive detail in dozens of drawings, the monsters seem to leap (or ooze) to life-sometimes so vividly that Twig seems to fade into the background. By the end, though, he's eluded them all, reunited with his real father aboard a flying pirate ship, and is sailing off into the simultaneously published sequel, Stormchaser (ISBN: 0-385-75070-6), with more sequels to come. Good fun, though the supporting cast tends to overshadow the plot. (Fiction. 10-12)Read full book review >
PLATYPUS AND THE LUCKY DAY by Chris Riddell
ADVENTURE
Released: Aug. 1, 2002

A lucky day proves to be just so, but not before a series of mishaps casts a long shadow across Platypus's expectations. Upon waking, he declares, "Today is my lucky day." Why he feels so is not clear, but it's not a bad attitude to strike in the early morning, taking the optimistic high road. Then he runs into a little trouble with his kite: the string is all tangled; it snaps in the wind and sticks in a tree; the branch Platypus is crawling on breaks and sends him punishingly earthward. He tries painting—enough of that kite—but the wind plays havoc with the paper and then the rain douses him good. Platypus makes a beeline for his bed—enough of the world, forsooth—there to find a banana and a missing, beloved stuffed toy under the covers. Things are looking better. He opens a closet to find an old go-cart, which he takes outside, modestly crashes into a tree, whereupon the kite tumbles from the branches and the day can start anew. As in his introductory story about this winsome character (Platypus, p. 577), Riddell places his watercolor and black ink spots on wide expanses of white, creating focal points that carry the tale. Comical in its own low-key way, what succeeds here is the note of cheery hope—even that dive into the bed looks like it had to be fun. Keep on smiling. (Picture book. 2-4)Read full book review >
PLATYPUS by Chris Riddell
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 2001

Riddell (Rabbit's Wish, 2001, etc.) reaches out to the preschool set in this charming environmental primer. The journey begins when Platypus, an avid collector, sets out to the seashore to find something special. When a "large curly shell" turns up in his bucket, Platypus thinks he's hit the jackpot. He goes home and puts the shell in his special box. Riddell's crisp watercolor illustration, finely accented in black ink, stands out against the stark white page as Platypus falls asleep under a blue-and-white striped blanket; behind him, two little eyes and a claw push the lid off the bright green box. When Platypus wakes up, his shell is gone. " ‘Oh dear . . . I will have to find a new shell for my collection,' " says Platypus. But when the second shell goes missing, Platypus is perplexed. Riddell pictures the big-billed hero soaking his feet in "his favorite thinking place." On the next page, Platypus looks aghast when a hermit crab latches on to his toe. " ‘Oh,' said Platypus to the little crab. ‘I'm sorry. If I had known the curly shell was your home, I never would have collected it.' " Final illustrations show Platypus returning the hermit crab to the beach, then checking another shell for signs of life before taking it home. Well-known as a political cartoonist, Riddell conveys his message subtly and with good humor. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
THE SWAN'S STORIES by Hans Christian Andersen
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 1997

Alderson (The Brothers Grimm, p. 299, etc.) translates 12 stories, some of which he previously published (e.g., in his edition of Andrew Lang's The Yellow Fairy Book, 1980, etc.). ``The Steadfast Tin Soldier'' and ``The Fir Tree'' are here, but so are stories about the lives of other inanimate objects: darning needle, collar, porcelain toys. Among Andersen's classics, these stories are relatively obscure, of interest only to adult laborers in the children's book field: They seem set up to house sarcastic social commentary (``The Collar''), and many just trail off instead of ending. ``The Money Pig'' ends as a piggy bank crashes to the floor, but the action in the story is almost incoherent to contemporary children. ``Grief,'' about a child who lacks the trouser-button entry fee to gain a glimpse of a pug dog's grave, trammels budding interest with this closing line: ``So that's the story, and if any of you don't understand it, then you can go and take some shares in the widow's tannery.'' A swan—a Father Gooselike figure—leads children from story to story, but doesn't make it any easier for them to drink. Riddell's charmingly appropriate full-color illustrations and black-and-white spot drawings, as well as the meticulous and graceful layout, make the book a welcome addition to any shelf- -but getting children to read it is an entirely different matter. (glossary) (Fiction/folklore. 7-11) Read full book review >
KASPER IN THE GLITTER by Philip Ridley
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 1997

Enticing young people to leave the brightly lit Glitter and join him in the decrepit part of town known as The Gloom, a parent-hating, teenage bully sets himself up as King Streetwise in this plodding British farce from Ridley (Krindlekrax, 1992, etc.). Kasper Whiskey, having spent all of his ten years with his indolent mother, Pumpkin, in her beauty parlor surrounded by leveled buildings, has never met anyone his age until the day he catches Heartthrob Mink, one of King Streetwise's troops, stealing roses. When Pumpkin's prized brooch disappears, Kasper sets out in pursuit. Streetwise is looking for Heartthrob, too, for helping his intended queen, Hushabye Brightwing, escape; Kasper joins the hunt but is so offended by the king's tactics that he switches sides and brings the two fugitives to the beauty parlor. Ultimately, Pumpkin turns over a new leaf, Heartthrob deals the king a black eye, the brooch turns up, and Hushabye declares her love for Kasper. Cautionary messages about bad friends and the dangers of running away are woven into a story that, for all its quirky elements and exaggerated characters, never hits the funny bone; few readers will notice that the king sounds like Elvis, nor will they attach much hilarity to repeated glimpses of Kasper's skill at whipping up a kind of banana cream pie. Riddell's black-and-white drawings have an expressive, graphic-novel-style sophistication, but can't leaven this leaden effort. (Fiction. 11-13) Read full book review >