The Squickerwonkers - Evangeline Lilly & Johnny Fraser-Allen
ISBN - 9781783295456
Publisher - Titan Books
Release date - November 18 2014
Meet Selma of the Rin-Run Royals, a clever little girl who is spoiled to the core. One day Selma stumbles upon a band of colorful marionettes, and gets more than she bargained for. The remarkable Squickerwonkers of the fabulous Squickershow are about to teach Selma that she’ll not always get her way.
I'd heard a lot about Lilly's debut picture book and, as with all celebrity penned books, was a tad on the sceptical side. I was still excited to receive a copy from Titan for review though as the illustrations look fabulous. The ultimate test for The Squickerwonkers and whether it was any good wasn't going to be my choice this time though, I decided to let the twins decide!
The Squickerwonkers (I wish there was a way of abbreviating that title, lets try SW's for now) is about a little girl, supposedly well mannered and known to most as Selma of the Rin-Run Royals. Selma is watching a marionette show, darker in tone than your average show, with an amazing array of characters including Papa the Proud, Meghan the Mute and Gillis the Gluttonous. Having realized that maybe not all is as it seems Selma's balloon is popped by one of the SW's and there ensues a tantrum that any self-respecting child would be proud of. Being a member of the Rin-Run Royals, Selma is not about to let anyone get away with that and threatens them all with her Gramps! Suddenly, through tear-filled and blurry eyes, there he is and Selma demands he take action over this horrible deed... I'll leave the rest to your imagination as I don't want to spoil the end for anyone.
The book is marketed at slightly older children than Frem (they're almost five) but they actually quite enjoyed the story. The one that I thought would be a bit frightened loved the illustrations & the story and the one that I thought would be fine really didn't like the illustrations but was quite happy to listen to the text. It's written in slanting rhyme so probably could have been written just as well in prose but it was this clunky sort of rhyming that held Frem's attention. What made the book for me were the luscious illustrations, they're exactly the sort of thing I love both now and when I was a child, they are suitably creepy and murky, with the same sort of appeal as Coraline. Considering they're done by WETA Workshop artist Johnny Fraser-Allen they probably couldn't be much better!
I've since discovered that there are going to be a whole series of Squickerwonker books so it will be interesting to see how they develop and whether they continue to follow the same format. What I learnt from reading the SW's was to not dismiss a book out of hand just because it's written by a celebrity and I ended up thoroughly enjoying it. Frem wanted to give it a five clock rating and I wanted to give it a three clock rating so 'Stay Up Late' was the 'almost 5yo's old's' compromise!
Many thanks to Ella & Chloe at Titan for providing me with a copy of The Squickerwonkers which I've had to give to Em as she wouldn't let me leave with it!