Gilbert watches the big ghosts float off to be-spook dark, creepy forests and towering castles, but he decides to find a homey, cozy house to haunt instead.
The first lights he sees in the darkness are not windows but a “gobble-me wolf” that, luckily, doesn’t see Gilbert but goes on its way. A path shining in the darkness turns out to be a “squeeze-me snake,” and curling smoke from a chimney is actually a “sizzle-me dragon.” Poor Gilbert ends up in a big castle despite himself, where he is so ineffectual that a dog chases him up the stairs…where he finds a tiny, (miraculously) populated castle on a table in the attic that’s exactly the right size for him. While children will appreciate Gilbert’s Goldilocks-like desire for the “just right,” the story is a chain of anticlimactic, often illogical plot points related in wordplay that borders on twee. Lindsay’s mixed-media illustrations employ what looks to be tissue paper for ghosts and wisps of fog against a forest of sharply outlined trees and branches. Gilbert is shaped like an upside-down teardrop that floats through the mildly threatening landscape. Even quite young children will wonder at his denseness in mistaking gleaming yellow eyes, an obviously scaled serpent and smoky breath that emanates from ground level for windows, a path and chimney smoke.
A cotton-candy puff of a story: sweet but entirely insubstantial. (Picture book. 3-5)