Lloyd Alexander,
illustrated by Diane Goode,
The House Gobbaleen
(Dutton, 1995)

Poor Tooley -- the good-natured man has the worst luck in the world. His roof leaks, his potatoes are too small and his pig is forever running away. His cat, a sensible and clever creature named Gladsake, assures Tooley that he's no more or less lucky than anyone else, but Tooley won't hear of it. He decides that the only thing to do is to attract one of the Fair Folk and leaves them some food.

What he gets is Hooks, an unpleasant round little man who warns Tooley that once in, he's never out and once out, he's never back. Tooley invites him in anyway, and Hooks proceeds to make Tooley wait on him hand and foot. Poor Tooley is soon worn to a frazzle, so it's up to Gladsake -- and the mysterious "House Gobbaleen" -- to come to the rescue.

This is a rollicking good original story that demands to be read aloud in a bad brogue, although a good brogue will work just as well. (I commented on this to the author when I met him at a conference a couple of years ago, and he smiled. "You're supposed to. That's how I wrote it," he said.) Goode's loopy playful illustrations capture the action from all angles, capturing Tooley's loveable goofiness, Hooks' malevolence, and Gladsake's appealing personality. They're packed with detail -- don't miss the faces on the ancestral portraits -- and lots of fun as they enhance and extend the text.

This is a tale you'll enjoy again and again. Actual child not required.

review by
Donna Scanlon


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