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 that 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. One ending is sweet, another is horrible. The last one 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.
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As in all good storybooks, in this one there was once a princess. She and her stalwart bear, Mr. Whiffle, live in a marzipan castle and have adventures. All is happy and cheerful except, of course, for the monster living under her bed. Sounds like a bedtime story, to be sure, but that’s only its superficial veneer. Toss in the odd bit of violence and a smidgen of stuffed-animal rebellion, and we are faced with a different sort of book. Rothfuss and Taylor share a wonderfully wicked sense of humor. The inclusion of three successive ending points, each darker in nature than its predecessor, allows the faint of heart the chance to stop, but really, the payoff for hanging on to the final ending is too good to miss. Taylor’s art is gleefully subversive while maintaining an appropriate sweetness without becoming overly precious. Fans of the classic cartooning of Calvin and Hobbes and Loony Toons will be pleased by this little gem in which children’s picture-book format expresses not-for-kids attitudes. --Tina Coleman
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