In seven interconnected short stories, first-time author Theule transports readers to an isolated farm whose owner, Bald, has just died, sparking conflicts that leave nothing and no one unscathed, whether human, animal, flower, or fairy. The farmer’s cruel son, Bones, and the resident fairy, Fat, promptly set out to destroy the other, in the process cutting off the farm cat’s tail and turning Mrs. Bald (who hasn’t stopped sobbing since her husband’s death) into a “mass of skin, fingernails, and hair,” after she inadvertently drinks a “Skeleton Eraser” elixir. The sometimes-comic, sometimes-gruesome events and eerie rural setting call to mind the short-lived cartoon Courage the Cowardly Dog—Theule’s is a farm where pigs whose feet haven’t been lopped off for stew mount elaborate dance numbers and where a mouse sails across a lake of Mrs. Bald’s tears to profess his love. Moments of selfishness, sacrifice, bravery, and revenge jumble together in haunting and unexpected ways, and Doyle’s lush b&w illustrations help establish an unsettling atmosphere that feels like Charlotte’s Web by way of Neil Gaiman. Ages 9–up. Author’s agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/2014 Release date: 10/01/2014 Genre: Children's
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