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Dillweed's Revenge: A Deadly Dose of Magic Hardcover – September 6, 2010

11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Product Description
Dillweed's parents go on adventures and leave him behind with Umblud the butler and Perfidia the maid, who treat him like their slave. Neither Umblud or Perfidia or the parents appreciate Dillweed's cherished pet, a creature named Skorped. When they threaten Skorped's life and well-being, Dillweed opens his black box and casts the runes, which releases smoky monsters, who do the dirty deeds. And then it's Dillweed turn to go on adventures.

Filled with nasty characters, beautiful details, and subtle humor, this stylish book follows in the tradition of the deliciously dark work of Edward Gorey, so Dillweed's happy ending undoubtedly means the end for someone else.

A Q&A with Florence Parry Heide, Author of Dillweed's Revenge

Q: You've written more than 100 children’s books--that's pretty impressive! How do continue to come up with new and fresh ideas? Where do you find inspiration?

A: I think ideas are rather like invisible balloons--they're always floating around, and if you are able to reach up and grab one, it's yours, otherwise it will just keep floating around with the other balloons until someone else reaches up and brings it down. Like inventions. Everything--except, of course, things in nature, like trees or clouds--had to be invented by someone. Someone had to be the very first person in the world to think of: the first chair, the first window, the first door. Who was it who reached up and grabbed those balloons? What balloon is up there waiting for you to pull it down?

Q: Your latest book, Dillweed's Revenge, has quite an interesting back story. Can you tell us a little about how Dillweed came to be?

A: This book was written forty years ago! At that time The Shrinking of Treehorn had just been published; my brother and his wife were visiting from California, my daughter Roxy joined us, and the four of us decided to write something that weekend for Edward Gorey to illustrate--thus Dillweed's Revenge.

Some editors liked the story but wanted a date on which the art would be finished, and Edward Gorey would never work that way. So, it sat and it sat, with occasional forays out into the world. But now, here it is! Too late for Edward, but Carson Ellis has accomplished wonders with her intricate dazzling illustrations.

And this long road to publication proves that anything is possible, and indeed that is my motto and favorite saying.

Q: Dillweed's story is both humorous and a little bit scary, all at once. Why do you think stories such as these are so appealing to kids?

A: Of course kids like to be soothed and reassured and coddled and amused, but they also like to read of naughtiness, excitement, and danger.

Q: Do you have any writing rituals or special practices? And what about when you're not writing—how do you spend your time? If you had a whole day free with nothing to do, how would you fill it?

A: I have no rituals or special practices; I just sit down and write. And a whole day free with nothing to do? I can’t imagine that. Isn't there always something interesting to do? Yes!

Q: What was your favorite book when you were a child?

A: I loved the Oz books and read and re-read every single one. My favorite was Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum: what an original and truly imaginative tale! Where is my copy? Did I read it so often I wore it out? Did it turn into dust?

Later, my favorite book was A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and I read that dozens of times as well and cried each time. It's truly comforting to be crying merrily away while reading a favorite book: you know it's going to turn out happily in the end, so the sadder the book seems, the better.

Q: What's the best advice you have for budding authors?

A: Advice...oh my! We all have our own reasons to want to write, our own styles, our own approach to writing, and what it is we want to write. What might work for me might never work for anyone else. The thing is: just write. Just proceed. What do you want to write about? If you’re telling a story, think about how you want to tell it--what point of view, what language, what style, to what purpose, etc. Do you want to inform your audience, or amuse or challenge them...

To put something into the world that hadn't existed before and would never exist but for you is a thrilling way to spend time! What is this tale that has never been told? Who are these people who have never before existed and will never exist unless you call them into being? Hurry, hurry, write it all down, now, while it’s fresh in your mind, don't let that balloon go!

From School Library Journal

Gr 2-5–When his oblivious parents depart for adventures, young Dillweed is left in the care of two servants who drink, party, and make him do constant chores. The narrator's wry tone makes it clear that the boy will not accept this situation forever, and his revenge is delightfully macabre. He unleashes a team of shadowy monsters who dispose of both butler and maid, and “Dillweed and Skorped,” his dragon-ish pet, “were happy.” The black humor turns even darker when the parents return and decide to get rid of the pet, then promptly meet the same fate as the servants. Readers leave boy and creature enjoying a cruise and living “happily ever after. Dillweed and Skorped, not the parents.” The restrained satiric voice sets the tone, slyly preparing readers for Dillweed's revenge. Terse sentences and repeated refrains inject humor while leaving room for the playful ink and gouache illustrations, which recall Edward Gorey's work, to fill in the details. Pictures, not words, reveal the magic stone that Dillweed uses, for example, as well as the monsters he calls forth. One especially funny spread shows the luggage of the returning parents being carried in, just as a servant's coffin is being carried out. The mixture of humor and gruesomeness may offend some, but for fans of Roald Dahl, Lemony Snicket, or Hilaire Belloc, it's right on target.Steven Engelfried, Wilsonville Public Library, OR
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Product Details

  • Grade Level: 5 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 200L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; International Edition edition (September 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152063943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152063948
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #864,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Cain on January 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fabulous book for an older child. It's the sort of dark children's story that brings to mind Coraline, the Nightmare before Christmas, etc. The child conjures up monsters to take revenge on his neglectful parents and abusive caretakers (who are drunkards and debauchers). Kids love stories where innocent children get revenge on mean adults. The artwork is great and the language is simple enough that a youngster could read it to him or herself. I bought it for my four-year-old, but will not be reading it to him for at least 3 or 4 years (he doesn't need to know that some adults don't take good care of their children).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Sandford on February 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Dillweed's wealthy parents are always vacationing, leaving him with the servants who take over as masters of the mansion and make Dillweed do their chores. Dillweed has a box of magical gems under his bed; opening the box unleashes shadowy monsters. The servants fall prey to deadly disasters caused by said monsters. The parents come home and promptly fall prey to a similar fate . Dillweed now lives happily ever after with his faithful and constant companion, Skorped. Short, but not sweet, definitely macabre, the intricate ink and watercolor illustrations carry this story into the graphic novel genre where it will be discovered by an appreciative audience of ages ten to twelve who delight in ghastly stories. And why not?
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Format: Hardcover
This is a book that has high appeal for the children who need it most: struggling and reluctant readers in the upper elementary grades. Adults who expect children's literature to contain a moral message or serve some other didactic purpose have been boring children to pieces for centuries. Fortunately, the author of this book understands what most adults don't: children get their morals by observing the behaviors of the people around them. They then integrate the literature they read into whatever moral framework they already possess. They don't construct a moral framework via the literature. So, for all the shocked and offended adults out there who feel more comfortable with those children's books that were written primarily with adult caregivers in mind: take a deep breath and enter the darkly comedic world of your child's imagination. Or, better yet: let your children read the book and review it themselves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By TS on August 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
LOVED this. Loved it. Great story, great illustration. Bought this as I'm a fan of Carson Ellis' illustration but was thrilled to find a great author as well.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael Burton on December 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book is about a boy who is being raised by neglectful parents and taken advantage of by the servants. He is unhappy and to get his revenge he unleashes his monsters of magic and bad accidents happen causing them to DIE. The character is happy when the bad things happen to the servants and his parents. I DON'T recommend this book for ANY child at any age. I don't want my child to think its ok to be happy if you have in some way caused someon to die either directly or indirectly!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By booknosh on July 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover
It's almost impossible to write a review without spoilers explaining my stance. So, fair warning: LOTS of spoilers ahead.

This is a book about a neglected child whose only friend is his pet. His parents leave him alone (never taking him with them on their vacations and adventures) with the servants, who are mean to him, and make him do all manner of chores (ones they should, themselves be taking care of).

So... Dillweed plots his revenge (via evil spirits/ghosts) and both of the evil servants are killed (one eats poison that the other was planning on serving to Dillweed, for example).

Afterwards, when his parents come back, he realizes he would be better off without them as well (they try to get rid of Dillweed's pet) and it's strongly implied that his parents, also, meet with a terrible end.

While I can see certain adults enjoying this book, it's definitely not one I want to read to my kids...
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