Courtney Crumrin & the Night Things

Ted Naifeh, Author, Ted Naifeh, Illustrator
Ted Naifeh, Author, Ted Naifeh, Illustrator Oni Press $11.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-929998-42-5
Reviewed on: 01/01/2003
Release date: 01/01/2003
Prebound-Other - 120 pages - 978-0-606-33365-8
Prebound-Glued - 978-1-4176-5319-5
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Naifeh (Gloomcookie) has written a masterpiece of middle school angst drawing on the work of Edward Gorey. Courtney moves with her family from the city to a ritzy suburb to take care of her ailing great uncle. Aspiring to wealth and status but maxed out on their credit cards, her parents jump at the opportunity to rub shoulders with the elite. Although they adapt, Courtney has trouble. Sharing the same last name as her eccentric and notorious uncle stigmatizes her as an untouchable to her classmates, who make fun of her clothes and remark, ""I heard she came from the ghetto."" Without friends or support from her parents and haunted by the Night Things at the foot of her bed, Courtney seeks out her uncle's library, a trove of books on magic. Ghouls and goblins flow from Naifeh's pen; his long shadows and bold, jagged drawings depict a frightening, unwelcoming world readers big and small can relate to. Courtney's cute, round face, lack of a nose, sour demeanor (""I'm rude, bad-tempered, and basically, I don't like people"") and unwillingness to play the popularity game make her a charming character that kids and savvy parents can snarl together with. Naifeh's deft observation that run-of-the-mill challenges can rock children's' worlds, should garner him a huge readership. Courtney should land the Harry Potter audience, because like Potter, she's sensitive to the same obstacles of alienation and acceptance. But as Naifeh points out, of all the things that go bump in the night, it's the everyday struggles that make our spines tingle in broad daylight.
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