Picture Book Review: Ben Hatke’s Nobody Likes a Goblin
Goblin, a cheerful little homebody, lives in a cozy, rat-infested dungeon, with his only friend, Skeleton. Every day, Goblin and Skeleton play with the treasure in their dungeon. But one day, a gang of “heroic” adventurers bursts in. These marauders trash the place, steal all the treasure, and make off with Skeleton—leaving Goblin all alone!
It’s up to Goblin to save the day. But first he’s going to have to leave the dungeon and find out how the rest of the world feels about goblins.
Not only superbly illustrated and beautifully told, Nobody Likes a Goblin is also an epic-sized story (with just as big a heart) in picture book format. Author and illustrator Ben Hatke’s work continues to impress: starting with the work in the graphic novel series Zita the Spacegirl to Julia’s House for Lost Creatures to Little Robot, he has only gone from strength to strength, showcasing his gift of storytelling in multiple areas.
When we meet Goblin, our protagonist and hero of Nobody Likes a Goblin, we discover a surprising level love and kindness. Aren’t goblins all supposed to be terrifying and unlikable? Taking great care of his dungeon, the rats, and his only friend Skeleton, Goblin mostly keeps to himself as he understands, unfortunately, that ‘nobody likes a goblin’. However, when his best and only friend Skeleton (along with other treasure-filled loot) is stolen from their dungeon, he makes a brave decision to save his friend. Out in the scary daylight, he does indeed discover that most creatures in the world don’t really like goblins- but that does not stop our hero. In a great turn, Goblin’s love for his friend and his valor gain the loyalty of other characters taken prisoner with Skeleton…and then a battle between Goblin and his new allies, and the foes takes place! With a perfect balance between the fierce, the funny and some elements of danger and excitement, Nobody Likes a Goblin is an adventure story that also allows for gentle consideration about being a good friend and staying true to oneself.
Overall, I highly recommend checking out Nobody Likes a Goblin! Readers who enjoy their picture books with a dose of magic, friendship, fantasy and adventure- think along the lines of a little touch of Rowling, Dahl or Tolkien- or those who love the work of authors and illustrators such as Aaron Becker, David Wiesner, William Joyce, Maurice Sendak or Chris Van Allsburg, might especially love Ben Hatke‘s latest.