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The goblin and the empty chair
Book
2009
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Trade Reviews

  Booklist Review

The all-star team of Fox and the Dillons brings poise and sensitivity to this folksy tale of the pitfalls of self-perception. Long ago and far away, a green-skinned goblin sees his reflection in a pond. Horrified, he wraps his face in gauze and resolves to spend his lifetime alone. But after years of solitude, he finds himself sneaking out at night to do good deeds for a family of farmers. He chops their wood, sows their garden, and soothes their child. Unbeknownst to him, the family is watching. Fox concocts a clever symbolism: when the farmer anguishes, he proceeds to bury his head in his hands, as does his wife and child, which mirrors the goblin's covered countenance. The ink-and-watercolors are rigidly confined to uniform frames, but even these frames are ornately festooned with not-so-monstrous faces, further developing the story's theme. When the family finally invites the goblin into their home and unwraps his gauze, we don't get to see his face, but that's the whole point it doesn't really matter, does it?--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2009 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

An unspecified medieval setting, an outwardly grotesque creature who is tender and compassionate, sad humans beset by difficulties, three tasks performed by the hero and a moral about looking beyond appearances; all of these are familiar elements in the fairy-tale tradition. Fox is a master at crafting tales that linger in memory over time, gently adding to the canon of classics. Her text is full of imagery and repeats several lovely phrases, with the theme of gentle kindness permeating the carefully chosen language. The Dillons' signature style raises the level of achievement even higher. Each page is framed in three parts with the text at bottom, a central watercolor illustration of a key event and its concomitant strong emotion and a border strip depicting actions that immediately precede the text. Gargoyles mirroring the emotions of the characters peek from behind each frame. The family's despair is never explained, but there is a pictorial clue that young readers will understand. A perfect combination of words and images. (Picture book. 6-9) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
In a time long past, in a land far away, a family has suffered an unspeakable loss.<br> <br> But a lonely goblin has been watching. And he knows what to do to help them heal.<br> <br> From internationally acclaimed picture book masters Mem Fox and Leo and Diane Dillon, here is a rich and moving original fairy tale about family, friendship, and the power compassion has to unite us all.
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