cover image God Bless the Gargoyles

God Bless the Gargoyles

Dav Pilkey. Harcourt Children's Books, $15 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200248-0

Pilkey's (the Dragon books; The Hallo-weiner) exuberant artwork takes on a mystical tone in this inspirational story about the presence of angels. As his occasionally labored rhyming verse posits, gargoyles were originally intended to guard churches against evil spirits, but over the years they came to be seen as ""grotesque"" and, in response, became ""crumbled and broken."" Yet, in Pilkey's vision, all was not lost. Passing angels befriended the unhappy statues, and now angels and gargoyles take evening flights together. Velveteen night scenes surpass the text in invoking a magical cosmology. Soft shadows brush turquoise and violet skies, bathing them in moonlight. On nearly every page, vivid stained glass windows interrupt the darkness with lapidary flashes of color. Pilkey imbues these dreamy vistas with electricity, the skin-prickling feeling of witnessing a special event. His angels, chunky females with flowing hair and feathered wings, are shadowy messengers the color of the sky. Under their care, ungainly gargoyles become limber and soar with them through the night. In imagining this incongruous camaraderie, Pilkey draws attention, too, to the human struggle for existence: his angels scatter ""songs of rebirth"" upon those who wrestle with loneliness, homelessness and grief. His optimistic message is easy to embrace. All ages. (Oct.)