Hey, it’s been a while, not too long really, but long enough, so I’m here to review a book I got for my birthday this year, a picture book called The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed. Yes, that is right, for my 20th birthday, I asked for a picture book, I am clearly an adult. But do not fret, as this is not your typical children’s picture book, in fact, many times on the dust cover of said book, it warns you that this is not a book for children. There is a nice, shiny golden seal on the book that says “This shit is not for kids, seriously”, that right there screams not for children I’d say. It is written by my favourite author, Mr Pat Rothfuss (author of the Kingkiller Chronicles Day 1: The Name of the Wind and Day 2: The Wise Man’s Fear), and illustrated by the wonderful Nate Taylor.
Welcome to Readers Indigestion.
I have been after this book for a good long time, I waited for MONTHS as Chapters said it was available for preorder and that the day it came out was soon approaching I went to Chapters the day it was released and the computer kindly informed me that the book was not available for order, there were none in stock anywhere in Edmonton and Area, and none where on their way. I wept. My fantastic friend then asked me what I wanted for my birthday, this was the first thing that came to mind and I shall be forever grateful It is signed, that makes me REALLY happy.
So what makes this book not safe for children? Well how about we turn to the blurb in the front flap of the book:
“This is not a book for children.
“It looks like a children’s book. It has pictures. It has a saccharine-sweet title. The main characters are a little girl and her teddy bear. But all of this is just protective coloration. The truth is, this is a book for adults with a dark sense of humor and an appreciation of old-school faerie tales.
“There are three separate endings to the book. Depending on where you stop, you are left with an entirely different story. Once ending is sweet, another is horrible. The lest ending is the true ending, the one with teeth in it.
“The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle is a dark twist on the classic children’s picture book. I think of it as Calvin and Hobbes meets Coraline, with some Edward Gorey mixed in.
“Simply said: This is not a book for children.”
As I was getting myself excited to read this book I kept trying to think of what Pat would do to make this not a children’s story, and I couldn’t come up with a thought that was even close to how this book ends. The story starts off innocently enough, a young girl lives in her castle made of Marzipan and lives with her teddy bear, but sadly she lives there alone. Her and Mr. Whiffle go on many an adventure, they fight pirates, go treasure hunting, and defeat rebellions, but when night time comes and they must go to sleep, they are no longer alone, for at night The Princess lives in fear of the Thing Beneath the Bed. As long as she keeps a candle burning she is safe, but if that candle goes out, that is when she was to fear the Thing.
“…It had great wide eyes that could see in the dark, and a great wide mouth for tasting things. It had thing, flat lips, and a wide, flat tongue. It’s skin was greenish-greyish-brownish. The Princess thought it was prickly like a nettle, or scaly like a fish, or slimy like a frog, but it was actually soft velvet, so the Thing never made any noise at all when it moved.”
As you approach the first ending you being to sense that the worst is coming, but then, as the cover promises, it ends very sweetly. Night comes again after they spent a new day with their new kitty, and the Thing comes back, and this time the second ending is quite different from the first, it is, as promised, quite horrible. Things are quickly rectified at the start of the third act of the book and everything seems to be going well and everyone is happy, and then the third ending comes, the true ending, the ending, as the cover once more succeeds at keeping its promise, with the teeth in it. And just like that it is over.
The punch line to this story just comes and then it doesn’t even think twice about what your reaction to it could be, it hits you with the final ending and then the story ends. The Princess and Mr Whiffle continue to live their life after the true ending, and everything is good again in their little world. When I reached the end all I could do was laugh, a morbid laugh, but it was still laughter.
Nate Taylor’s art in this is absolutely stunning! He makes it all look like a children’s cartoon TV show is sitting there on the paper in front of you, his use of shading is gorgeous and looking at the book was an absolute treat. A few months ago on Pat’s website they released a limited printing colour version of this book (that is what the cover up top there is from) I wish I could have seen more of it but just from the cover the pictures are even more breath taking. In black and white it has the exact same affect though, so do not fret.
I highly recommend anyone with a sick sense should pick up this book. In all honesty, I will probably read it to my kids, my kids will be able to take it I think, it’s the kind of book I can imagine my dad reading me while I was growing up. The only way to get it in Canada is to order it off of his website (http://thetinkerspacks.bigcartel.com/) but as of right now all of the copies you could buy are sold out. The book is rather expensive but all of the money made from the book goes towards the Worldbuilders charity from Heifer International which has quickly become one of my absolute favourite charities and I definitely think it’s worth everyone’s time to check it out.
The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed: 5/5
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