I kind of wish that my kids were little again – so I could read them this story during D.E.A.R. time (Drop Everything And Read). There’s a new children’s book out, Agatha Hattie Queen of the Night, written by Jacquelyn Fedyk and illustrated by Leslie Nan Moon “for strange parents to read to odd little children…” Considering I include myself in the circles of strange and my children are certainly not mainstream, this tag line on the book’s web site is engaging and makes you want to check it out. You should.
Agatha Hattie is a gothic fairytale where Dr. Seuss meets Lemony Snicket, one I think is poised to become a contemporary classic. Agatha Hattie is a girl who just can’t follow the crowd; it leads her down the path where she meets a vampire dog and dances with him in the fog and the mist, much to the distress of her waiting-at-home parents. The vampire dog bites her and Agatha Hattie’s life goes down yet another unexpected path – which lets readers know why some things in the monster world are as they are.
I loved the unique angle of the story, and like I said, the Dr. Seuss meets A Series of Unfortunate Events slant it has to it – all in a gloriously done picture book. Moon’s art pairs dead-on with Fedyk’s darker, yet huggable, themes in the book – independence, diversity, and embracing opportunity. It reminded me of the The Misadventures of Dreary & Naughty (by John LaFleur & Shawn Dubin)– which is aimed more at a young teen audience, whereas Agatha Hattie can be embraced by children as young those who can hold books and sit still for mom to read to them. – Parental approval pending. As a parent myself, I never assume to know what other parents approve of – since each child has to be individually considered. My point is that I would have read it to any of my kids beginning about that time. The book empowers children to look at dark and scary things in a new light and accept them as whimsical and just part of another culture. I really dig that because it allows children to embrace all manner of differences – and isn’t that a good thing to teach our kids? And why not do it with such a fun book!
Where the story ends leaves the door open for another volume. I hope the author and artist will do more. They probably would if there are enough of us clamoring for more. Since the team of Fedyk & Moon did a smashing job of independently publishing this book, it’s likely an easier sell than other children’s books. I can see the headlines now: We Want More Agatha Hattie!
For now, I hope that (eventually) I’ll get to read Agatha Hattie Queen of the Night to some (grand?) children. In the meantime, I wonder if my teenagers would humor me?
Note: Fedyk and Moon will be having their first reading/book launch of the book this Saturday (March 9th) in North Bend, Wash. The event begins at noon at Selah Gifts on North Bend Way. I’ll be there.