This is the first in an illustrated darkly poetic series from the Hobbit and Lost star, but one which may not be worth following…
Yes indeed, that is Evangeline Lilly of Lost and The Hobbit fame, and this poetic pilot of a book is something of a Hobbit creative team spin-off – as well as further evidence that celebrity is a more crucial qualification for writing for children than natural ability.
We’re taking a look at The Squickerwonkers above all, of course, for its illustrations and design, so it’s crucial to the proceedings that illustrator and Weta Workshop sculptor Johnny Fraser-Allen gets equal billing, because with the very best will in the very best world, Lilly’s concept and text have no real place on bookshelves. This taster story of a spoiled child who gets sucked into the world of a gang of oddball puppets is very briefly told in a handful of near-limerick stanzas with indifferent scansion and nothing much to suggest it’s publishable. It feels tough to admit this with the likes of Peter Jackson singing the project’s praises in his intro, but sadly even the quirky visuals don’t turn The Squickerwonkers into anything special, leaving us with a pretty blatant vanity project.
The Hobbit links should, however, mean that it is the first of a series, whether we like it or not.
Clever but spoilt Selma loses her temper with the motley gang of Squickerwonkers. What will become of her?