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Little Lit: It Was a Dark and Silly Night... Hardcover – August 5, 2003

7 customer reviews
Book 3 of 3 in the Little Lit Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

Maus creator Art Spiegelman and art editor of The New Yorker Françoise Mouly created a gorgeous splash with their deliciously oversized comic art collections Little Lit and Strange Stories for Strange Kids. In their latest compilation It Was a Dark and Silly Night... fans will find darkly delightful comics by Lemony Snicket and Richard Sala, William Joyce, Neil Gaiman and Gahan Wilson, J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh, Carlos Nine, Kaz, and more. The editors asked this talented crew of cartoonists, novelists, and children's book illustrators and authors to begin a story "It was a dark and silly night." Lemony Snicket took "silly" to stand for "Somewhat Intelligent, Largely Laconic Yeti." William Joyce tells the story of "Art Aimesworth, boy crimefighter and all around whiz-kid" who attempts to isolate Giggle-illium, the long-searched-for silly atom. Neil Gaiman begins his dark and silly night with "a light and grumpy afternoon." Kaz spins the tale of a bizarre upside-down family that only rights itself when a gas explosion blows the house up, in both senses. As with the other Little Lit collections, readers will be amazed, amused, baffled, turned upside-down and righted again, all in the course of a happy afternoon of browsing. (All ages over 9 or so) --Karin Snelson

From School Library Journal

Grade 2 Up-Ask 15 authors and artists from the picture book and/or comics world to start a story with "It was a dark and silly night-" and you get the selections that comprise this third volume in the series of cartoon creations and collaborations. Hallmarks of the first two "Little Lit" books are all here: stylish graphic design and layout, full-color art, large format, and quality heavyweight paper. Several of the same names are here, also-including William Joyce, Kaz, and Martin Handford-but intriguing new pairs appear for the first time. The nicely mysterious circularity of Lemony Snicket's story, which begins "In this case `silly' stands for- Somewhat Intelligent, Largely Laconic Yeti," plays out against Richard Sala's fairly straightforward cartooning, enhancing the deadpan absurdity of the tale. Neil Gaiman's creepy saga of a ghouls-just-wanna-have-fun cemetery party derives much of its goofiness from Gahan Wilson's trademark goggle-eyed, lumpish kids and creatures. Other standouts include Joost Swarte's domestic drama turned slapstick, complete with a detached head sewn back on, which has the look of a slightly surreal "Tintin" adventure, and comics legend Basil Wolverton's "Jumpin' Jupiter" spaceman panels from 1952, still fresh and funny, are full of punny detail and dizzy wordplay. Less successful are J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh's postmodern penguins (including Chongo Chingi from Penguin Dreams [Chronicle, 1999]) on a flat and unfunny journey from the South Pole to Hollywood, and Barbara McClintock's picture puzzle, which is a bit too dark and indistinct to be entirely successful. On the whole, however, the variety of art and text, from the bizarre to the benign, offers a cast of cuckoos for just about every taste.
Nancy Palmer, The Little School, Bellevue, WA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Little Lit
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Joanna Cotler (August 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060286288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060286286
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.4 x 13.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #421,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Blahblahblah on October 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
While the first two Little Lit books appealed equally to adults and children, it would appear that this third book will appeal more strongly to children. Maybe the editors felt guilty about starting battles between parents and children over who got to read their books first. It isn't that the stories are any less intelligent. And most of the artwork continues to be quite stunning (although William Joyce's contribution is my least favourite, he does an excellent job of imitating the art of Winsor McCay). The problem appears to be with the book's theme: silliness.
All of the stories (except for the fun Basil Wolverton reprint) are entitled "It Was a Dark and Silly Night", and are quite nonsensical. Maybe adults are too serious to appreciate silliness unless it is hip or postmodern. Kids, however, never seem to grow tired of silly stories, perhaps because they are good at engaging the imagination. But regardless of the reasons why this book is less enjoyable for adults, you could do far worse than giving young children a copy.
Desipte the fact that this book will appeal more to younger readers, I still enjoyed some of the stories. The entry by Lemony Snicket and Richard Sala begins with awkward narration, but its humourous take on the yeti legend is interesting and has a great, bizarre punchline. The story by Neil Gaiman and Gahan Wilson is slight, but it should be able to cheer up anyone (I've always had a soft spot for silly monsters). And Patrick McDonnell, whose contribution's silliness is matched by its lyrical beauty, demonstrates why he is currently the only person producing a consistently good comic strip for newspapers (Mutts).
However, my personal favourite is the story by Kaz.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on July 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book. I especially like the graphics on the inside cover, they are very funny and greatly illustrated. the stories are funny too. My favorite stories are "Jumpin Jupiter" by Basil Wolveton and the one by Neil Gaiman and Gahan Wilson. I like the general idea of the book -- that all the stories start with the same line and each author/illustrator creates a completely different story.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Maggie N. on September 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As a big fan of Little Lit 1 and Little Lit 2, I found <i>It Was A Dark And Silly Night</i> to be a little disappointing. I am not sure where the disappointment comes from - the art is great (kudos especially to Richard Sala and Martin Handford), the stories are interesting (my favorite being the Yeti story by Lemony Snicket), and the editing is superb. It may be that the charm of the first two compilations was that even though they pretended to contain children stories, Little Lit 1 & 2 were really for the adults' entertainment. The humor in Little Lit 1 & 2 was not pressured or artificially created, instead, the humor rose naturally out of the contrast between having children's stories and directing them at adults, between illustrating as if you were illustrating for kids and realizing that the story being illustrated actually contains a lot of more mature humor with more literary tricks and irony.

Little Lit 3 is proving to be a little too silly - it's nice to see your kids read the book, but Little Lit 1 & 2 were books you could read with your kids without being bored, or even read if you didn't have any kids at all. <i>It Was A Dark And Silly Night</i> is still a well-written, well-drawn, and well-edited compilation, however, the fact that it is purposefully directed at a younger audience makes it somewhat unreachable even for the most immature and young-hearted of adults.

I'm still glad I have purchased this compilation as it is a nice compliment to the first two books, but it is definitely a sequel and were it the first book in the series, the series might've never become as popular as it is currently.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Heiss on October 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The great thin about children's authors is that they so often tap into the little things of kids. Ths is a unique and interesting collection of various authors' and illustrators' takes on the phrase, "It was a dark and Silly night..." Weird. Fun. Nice large book.
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