{book} dillweed’s revenge

on

DAY 26

Dillweed’s Revenge: A Deadly Dose of Magic by Florence Parry Heide

Illustrated by Carson Ellis

Harcourt, 2010.

I found this in the children’s picture book section at the Tattered Cover Book store as I was browsing. I was drawn to Carson Ellis’ as illustrator, and after reading it ooked around the room at the grandmothers with their grandchildren and the plush characters and candy-coated book covers and wondered what Dillweed’s Revenge was doing here. Powell’s books lists it: from age 10; from grade 5.

The question is: once you’ve moved to the chapter book section of a library do you peruse the picture book section? I know in Libraries they put picture books with chapter books in the juvenile section—so maybe they can be read? Because Dillweed’s Revenge channels a darker Roald Dahl, the usual Edward Gorey, and The Willoughby’s by Lois Lowry, I know people who would we be interested in this particular picture book. And I know others who would shriek if their young readers brought this one to mommy or daddy to read. Maybe the shelver has a delicious sense of humor?

Dillweeds parents go on adventures and leave him behind with Umblud the butler and Perfidia the maid, who treat him like their slave. Neither Umblud or Perfidia or the parents appreciate Dillweeds cherished pet, a creature named Skorped. When they threaten Skorped’s life and well-being, Dillweed opens his black box and casts the runes, which releases smoky monsters, who do the dirty deeds. And then it’s Dillweed turn to go on adventures.

Filled with nasty characters, beautiful details, and subtle humor, this stylish book follows in the tradition of the deliciously dark work of Edward Gorey, so Dillweed’s happy ending undoubtedly means the end for someone else. –publisher’s comments.

I have to say that it wasn’t as “deliciously dark” as Edward Gorey, but the humor is “subtle,” even for those with a morbid sense of humor (like me). The subtlety of the humor may be less so for those who appreciate classic European children’s tales (which is why Lowry’s book came to mind). Umblud and Perfidia are evil and the menacing ghostly demons are as violent as they, and in a more tasteful turn, the parents’ demise is unseen. They really shouldn’t have tried to get rid of the creepy “cherished pet” of Dillweed’s. And it isn’t like he is being petulant or anything, the parents are neglectful and who else does he have, right?… Can’t say we aren’t warned by the title. And the cover is a good indicator as well that this is going to be for the darkling humored.

{adore the mirrored effect here, an allusion perhaps?}

{love the look of desperation on the boy’s face as he looks longingly at the plane, and as for the unwelcome guests: their attributes that are bound to repulse.}

Dillweed’s Revenge is also for fans of Carson Ellis who meets the Gorey-esque with her own brand of charm. She also adds to Heide’s story with her own brand of charm while fleshing out the text, providing details that help tell a cold story of revenge and creating an atmosphere of both a chilling fear and an ultimate shiver of triumph.

{images belong to Carson Ellis}

A good R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril (RIP) read for the 10 & up set…

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