William Steig ~ Godine, 1984
On our recent trip to New York, my son was allowed to select one title from Books of Wonder and this was it. Readers had mentioned this Steig before, but I'd never run across it before in my thrift stores travels. This copy is a new edition (it was previously titled Bad Island) with a great forward by the always delightful Quentin Blake. And quite honestly, Rotten Island is one of those rare books that stops you in your tracks and makes you reevaluate the idea of what a children's book is supposed to be in the first place.
You know, I'd originally steered away from Steig because at first glance I'd incorrectly assumed his work was vulgar and too quirky for kids, but the more and more I read, the more I understand that his is an art of the highest order. His humor and vision are so original and such a delight... but now I just sound like a brown-noser... The point is, his books are amazing and hysterical and my son just can't get enough... So nasty, so dastardly, so absolutely yum.
There was once a very unbeautiful, very rocky, rotten island. It had acres of sharp gravel and volcanoes that belched fire and smoke, spewed hot lava, and spat poison arrows and double-headed toads. The spiny, thorny, twisted plants that grew there had never a flower of any kind. There was an earthquake an hour, black tornadoes, lightning sprees with racking thunder, squalls, cyclones, and dust storms.
At night it froze; all the living things stopped moving and turned to ice. But the volcanoes kept exploding, and the lightest breeze was a hurricane. At sunrise everything thawed out and moved again.
Deliciously rotten, no? The drawing of the two-headed toads spewing is especially diabolical. Have no fear, evil devours evil and it ends in birds which makes it all the better.
The Amazing Bone
Amos & Boris
Yellow & Pink
The Zabajaba Jungle
Father Palmer's Wagon Ride
Solomon the Rusty Nail
Read along on Facebook, tumblr, Twitter and Etsy!