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Little Lit: It Was a Dark and Silly Night... Hardcover – August 5, 2003
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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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Top customer reviews
Most of the other entries, I'm afraid, I found just to be okay. One or two were even a tad boring -- but keep in mind, this is from the perspective of an adult reader. I have a great appreciation for children's stories, but I tend towards the ones that are layered in such a fashion that adults can appreciate them as well. Most of the stories in this book aren't. Kids will probably love it, though.
The puzzles are fun and a nice inclusion, and the front and back art pieces by the creator of "Where's Waldo" were a riot. If you're a big-time Gaiman fan like me and just have to get anything he does, you can probably justify getting this book. If you've got kids, you don't need to justify it -- it's well worth it.
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. With its extremely surreal imagery and humour, this one reminded me of some of the more outrageous, anarchistic Looney Tunes cartoons of which I was especially fond, such the one that takes place in the land of the Dodo bird. Except for its length, and the fact that it is kid-friendly, this contribution would not be out of place amongst Kaz' Underworld cartoons.
The only story I wish was left out is the one by Joost Swarte, but I've never liked his work.
I doubt any adult will enjoy everything in this volume (these books are for children at any rate), but I still highly recommend this book to anyone who has kids and to those adults who like to remember what it was like being a kid.
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.