cover image Tollins: Explosive Tales for Children

Tollins: Explosive Tales for Children

Conn Iggulden, illus. by Lizzy Duncan. Harper, $16.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-06-17309

A deliciously subversive vein runs through this story collection%E2%80%94not surprising coming from the coauthor of The Dangerous Book for Boys. The protagonist, Sparkler, is a tiny winged creature called a "tollin," which should not be confused with a fairy ("Tollins regard fairies as fluttery show-offs and occasionally use them to wipe out the insides of cups"). Indeed, fairies are a running joke in all three stories in this collection, in which Sparkler's scientific curiosity shakes up stagnant tollin culture. In one tale, Sparkler's ingenuity saves the tollins from being used in fireworks for their combustible "tollin dust." In another, he introduces human medicine, "a sensitive subject. Grunion's father had cured his son's athlete's foot by removing the foot. Grunion senior had also recommended it as a cure for ingrown toenails, tennis elbow and dandruff." Iggulden's flair for the ironic and absurd, which recalls Lemony Snicket, should tickle both kids and adults, who will pick up some basic science concepts, such as how hot air balloons and pumps work. Debuting illustrator Duncan is no lesser a comic talent, composing funny scenes using a seamless blend of illustration and photography. All ages. (Oct.)