Saturday, October 29, 2016
Nobody Likes a Goblin, written and illustrated by Ben Hatke. First Second Books, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2016. $20.50 ages 4 and up
and the elves chased Goblin
to the edge of the Haunted
Swamp, and there Goblin
saw adventurers pulling a
cartload of spoils. And
sitting atop the treasure was -
"Skeleton!" shouted Goblin."
I know that I have sung praises for Ben Hatke's work in other posts. This is just another example of the power he brings to storytelling. This time he tells another story of warm friendship and courage, much like Little Robot in terms of the feelings it creates for readers.
Goblin will tug at your heartstrings as soon as he awakens, gets his day started, and heads off to see Skeleton.
"He lit the torches.
He fed the rats.
He gnawed on an old boot for breakfast,
and he thought about the day ahead."
Skeleton and Goblin share the joys of days spent together until a band of adventurers burst into the dungeon, creating great havoc which ends with Skeleton's capture. Donning a crown, Goblin sets out on a mission to find his friend. Counsel from his neighbor Troll that 'nobody likes a goblin' goes unheeded. Goblin has important work to do.
Troll's warning is proven correct in subsequent meetings with a farmer, an innkeeper, some elves - they all give chase, bearing a pitchfork and a frying pan and a good deal of anger and revenge. A chance meeting with the plunderers offers just the right circumstance for Goblin to save his best friend!
A chase ensues and they are able to find refuge in a sheltered cave nearby. There, Goblin proclaims that Troll had the right idea about resentful feelings concerning goblins. Skeleton pooh-poohs such nonsense. It isn't long until others nod in agreement, and choose to defend his honor and his position of power in the face of the interlopers. You will be delighted to meet his defenders!
There is danger; there is also love, and loyalty, and showing courage in the face of any danger than threatens a friend. I admire the details, the setting, the action, and the joy exhibited when life returns to normal. Who knew a goblin had heroic tendencies and friendship in his heart? We just needed to give him a chance!