cover image The Marvelous Land of Snergs

The Marvelous Land of Snergs

Veronica Cossanteli, illus. by Melissa Castrillón. Europa, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-60945-808-9

Based on the 1927 E.A. Wyke-Smith book of the same title that’s notable for its influence on The Hobbit, this archly voiced update from Cossanteli (The Halloweeds) reads like a classic children’s adventure in the vein of Mary Poppins and Alice in Wonderland. Landing on the same day at the Sunny Bay Home for Superfluous and Accidentally Parentless Children, the two newest residents quickly start chafing at the facility’s strict rules. Pip, the youngest of the Fantastic Flying Frangipanis, shows up when a tiger eats his furious father; Flora, who stops speaking after her mother forbids her constant chatter, arrives after her parents go down with the Titanic. Lured by the promise of freedom, Flora is abducted by a purple-clad woman with a puppy, resulting in a chase that sends both children, portrayed with light skin, through a mysterious gate. On the other side, they are guided by memorably depicted Gorbo, a well-meaning but comically absentminded Snerg—a hobbit-like line of cheerful tree-dwellers who are fond of food and stories—as they try to find their way home, encountering fanciful creatures, attending a Queen’s feast, and ending generational enmity. Ample whimsy and episodic escapades give the quest a friendly, low-stakes feel; interior artwork from Castrillón (Dear Little One) enhances the fanciful vibe. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)