Dear Mem Fox and Leo and Diane Dillon,

December 2, 2009

The Goblin and the Empty Chair – Mem Fox and Leo & Diane Dillon – 32 pages

The goblin hides his face and keeps to himself, so as not to frighten anyone–but when he stumbles upon a suffering farm family, he helps ease their load by night, in secret.  The goblin doesn’t realize that the family has seen his efforts until they offer their thanks in the best way they can.

Whew, it was hard to summarize this book without giving too much away.  The Goblin and the Empty Chair is just the sort of evocative story I’d expect from this particular collaboration, and the perfect book to get me back into the swing of regular reviewing.  The prose is masterful, simple and repetitive without being boring or babyish, with an air of mystery and a lot of subtlety; the art picks up all sorts of hints and cues from the text and brings them fully to life, while adding story of its own.  A really good picturebook is a mixture of art and text that don’t tell the whole story when separated, and you’ve created a perfect example of that!

Of course, it helps that I’m a sucker for stories about humble tragic heroes and human kindness, which is just what this one is, and I’m also a huge Dillon fan.  The little girl reminds me pleasantly of Wise Child, and I love the little friezes along the tops of the illustrations, and the whole thing is just an achievement in visual/textual storytelling.  You all rock my socks.  Five stars!

Oh, and this reading of the book is just AWESOME–but I wish those great friezes were shown along with the main illustrations!  This would have made a great Reading Rainbow book.  (LeVar, I miss you on tv.)



Wanna check out this title for yourself?  Try the Indie Bound or ABC bookstore finders!

Books this year: 99

Pages this year: 19,962