When the Queen died and her bereft king banished color from the kingdom, Prince Viridian’s world turned the gloomiest gray. A mysterious present (a cute, colorful creature called a wooglefoof) crashes his birthday party and changes all that, spiriting its garish stripes across the castle and sending the king’s Color Snatcher in fiendish, feverish pursuit.
Scratchy, black ink drawings deliver wobbly, warped perspectives over undulating gray backdrops, punctuated with pop-eyed expressions and swift action. The wooglefoof’s vivid fur clashes brilliantly with fine black linework and murky gray fog, propelling readers onward. Expert paneling unfailingly energizes and advances the story as well, creating a pace that leaves you panting. The sinister Color Snatcher’s jagged cheekbones, sharp nose and supremely str-e-etch-ed smile raises goosebumps, while the wooglefoof’s fluffy rainbow tail, googly eyes and spastic sprints deliver laughs. In Anderson’s giddily dark world, where Tim Burton or Edward Gorey might happily put up their feet, the comic and ridiculous teeter alongside the horrid and beastly. Sophisticated language and frightening chase scenes broaden this book’s appeal to older readers, who might start touting joyful flamboyance over ascetic boredom.
Creepy, kooky and deftly delivered, this dark story offers a bright ending for readers who might think they’ve just outgrown fairy tales. (Picture book. 5-10)