#SurvivalStories2021 Books Early Readers Features Genre Horror and Deliverance in Books Lifespan of a Reader Middle Grade Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] A Picturebook Biography of the Delightfully Creepy Edward Gorey

"... But Edward liked writing and illustrating stories that made readers uneasy... ... Anything less would be boring. And who wanted that? Not Edward."

Myra here.

We are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

Our reading theme for October – December is Horror and Deliverance in Books. For nonfiction titles, we are targeting the following books that fit the following deliberately-nebulous criteria:

  1. picturebook biographies of people who write creepy or scary stories
  2. picturebook biographies of people who bring to light injustices and fight for redemption and deliverance from the horrors of inequality
  3. picturebook biographies of people who are light-bearers

What better way to start off this quarterly reading theme than with a dose of creepy Gorey-isms.

Nonsense! The Curious Story Of Edward Gorey (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Lori Mortensen Illustrated by Chloe Bristol
Published by Versify (2020)
ISBN: 9780358033684 (ISBN10: 0358033683) Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

I have always been fascinated by Edward Gorey and own a copy of his Amphigorey series. There is something very distinct about his strange and eerie drawings and his turns of phrase that make his creations easily recognizable.

I was taken by the book from the first full-page spread alone. What a tribute to the strangeness of Gorey’s characters. While this is the first picturebook of Chloe Bristol, I am hoping that this will not be her last. I felt that she was able to do Gorey’s art justice and made his spirit come alive in this short but comprehensive picturebook biography that encompassed the full length of Gorey’s life: from childhood to adulthood.

I devoured a Gorey on Gorey edited by Karen Wilkin, entitled Ascending Peculiarity (Amazon | Book Depository) and reviewed it here, which I am sad to report is not included in the list of sources found at the end of Nonsense. It would have been a good reference material that aficionados would do well to read too.

At any rate, I was immensely excited to finally find a PBB on Edward Gorey: he is such a singular individual that it may have been quite challenging to select which aspects of his life to feature in this biography written for children. Yet, the book creators managed to do so with aplomb, nonsensical humor, and grace – just the way Gorey would have wanted it, I believe.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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