THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON: A Pop-Up
Stephen King, , illus. by Alan Dingman. . S&S/Little Simon, $24.95 (16pp) ISBN 978-0-689-86272-4
Chilling things pop up in this book by King, who revises his harrowing 1999 novel about a nine-year-old lost in the Maine woods. Due to the format's limited space, the exposition is condensed and rushed: Trisha, the title girl, is on a hike with her recently divorced mom and sullen brother, Pete. While her mother and brother argue, Trisha steps off the trail to relieve herself, and loses her bearings. Beset by bloodthirsty insects (represented on a transparent plastic screen that spins around her face) and menaced by a nameless "special thing that comes for lost kids," Trisha struggles to stay sane and alive. She takes comfort in hallucinations of her hero, Red Sox closing pitcher Tom Gordon, who offers fatherly advice. Like the original, this version follows a baseball structure, from a calm "first inning" to an alarming "top of the ninth" where Trisha faces the supernatural "God of the Lost," a bearlike monster with spiny teeth. King mentions (but the illustrations do not show) things like "the severed head of a deer, terrified eyes wide open" from the original; Dingman creates seven spreads, heavy on the nauseous green and shadowy brown, as Trisha grows increasingly haggard and startling things emerge from trapdoor pages (e.g., a hideous wolfish head or clawed paw appears, then swoops behind a bush). Where the novel built malicious suspense, this production demands that readers lift flaps and peek through transparent windows to heighten the horror. Daring and, ideally, mature King fans will appreciate this scary, perversely funny combo of horror and children's pop-up. Ages 8-up.
Reviewed on: 09/20/2004