Goodreads: The Demise of Selma the Spoiled
Series: The Squickerwonkers #1
Selma is now a part of the Rin Run Royals and she gets everything she wants. But when a peddler comes to town, Selma’s greed may be her undoing. A disturbing cautionary tale in verse by Evangeline Lilly (Lost, The Hobbit, Ant-Man and the Wasp). Illustrations by Rodrigo Bastos Didier.
The Demise of Selma the Spoiled is a short cautionary tale told in verse. This is technically the second in the series, following some sort of prequel, and the intent seems to publish a book about each member of the Rin Run Royals and how their particular vice leads to their undoing. The premise will appeal to fans of the morbid, but I suspect the illustrations (and Evangeline Lilly’s star power) will be what really entice readers to pick up the book.
Writing a story in verse is difficult and, while Lilly’s effort is not flawless, it does have a musicality that many other children’s books I have read lacked. It is easy to imagine the book being read aloud, though readers will have to change the natural stress of some lines in order to make the rhythm work. This may not bother all readers, however, as these instances are not many.
The story itself is deliciously creepy and readers who enjoy disturbing works by authors such as Roald Dahl or Shel Silverstein will likely find The Demise of Selma the Spoiled delightful. (Parents with impressionable or easily scared children, however, may want to wait on this one.) However, it must be admitted that the complex and weird illustrations ultimately steal the show.
The illustrations strike me as very busy. There is a lot going on in each page and this, at times, makes it a little difficult to read the text, especially when it is presented in thin, wobbly, colorful fonts. I felt slightly overwhelmed during my first read through and found it a little difficult to concentrate on the text when presented with so many vibrant, full-color spreads. However, a second read was more enjoyable as I spent more time perusing the bizarre illustrations, wondering what parts signified (if anything), and trying to decide if I liked them or was just creeped out. Fans of the macabre will definitely want to take a look.
The Demise of Selma the Spoiled is not exactly a stand-out children’s book. However, the full-color spreads will appeal to book collectors while the promise of a morbid cautionary tale will appeal to readers looking for more stories to delight and disturb. And, if nothing else about the book seems enticing, you can read it just because you love Evangeline Lilly’s work.