THE SQUICKERWONKERS by Evangeline Lilly

THE SQUICKERWONKERS

From the "Squickerwonkers" series, volume 1
Age Range: 5 - 8
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Actress Lilly makes her picture-book debut.

Opening with a slant rhyme, the preface claims Selma discovered a “wagon-like ride,” though how this is possible when she’s just “wandered away from a fair” is puzzling. A disembodied voice welcomes her and—over the course of 10 action-void pages—introduces the nine creepy Squickerwonker marionettes. Verse peppered with odd word choices and awkward phrasing makes it clear that rhyme takes precedence over story. While the illustrations only occasionally succeed in highlighting the Squickerwonkers’ unsavory qualities, Fraser-Allen does a commendable job of creating an eerie atmosphere. When Selma bravely joins the Squickerwonkers onstage, they purposefully pop her balloon (evidently prized, though it is not mentioned in the text before this). Her subsequent tantrum gets her labeled a brat and turned into a Squickerwonker herself (with very Coraline-esque coin eyes). Readers may wonder why a girl who stands up for herself is characterized as spoiled and punished. Is this book a cautionary tale? Perhaps, but its moral is uncertain, especially given the rushed and unclear ending.

While it’s gratifying to see a story that trusts readers with fear, the lack of a substantial plot and poor rhyme quality make this one to pass by, Peter Jackson’s imprimatur in the introduction notwithstanding. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 18th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-78329-545-6
Page count: 42pp
Publisher: Titan Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2014




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