Pilkey, Dav. God Bless the Gargoyles. Orchard Books, 1996. $17.99. unp. ISBN 978-0-545-93514-2. Ages 4-8. P8Q9
Before Pilkey created the 12-volume series of Captain Underpants, he wrote this classic rhyming tale about the way that stone gargoyles, grotesques crafted to protect medieval churches from evil, came to be seen as the embodiment of that evil. Pilkey humanizes the desolate creatures as angels take them for night flights to comfort them. The poignant message is one of lifting people from rejection, significant to young readers searching for help in a complex world. The historic-styled illustrations in acrylics, watercolors, and India ink, reminiscent of Marc Chagall, highlight the churches and gargoyles and match the old-fashioned language of the rhymes: “god bless each soul that is tortured and taunted/god bless all creatures alone and unwanted.” Bursts of vibrant color in stained-glass windows juxtapose with the rich, gray night hues of gargoyles and brighter blues and greens of the angels. One spread references the angels protecting the homeless.
Verdict: This classic reprint deserves a home in all school and public libraries.
January 2017 review by Nel Ward.