Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tolly by Maryanna Hoggatt

This isn't the type of book I would normally review, but I have a deep and not-so-secret obsession with miniatures and miniature scenes and when I saw that the artist/author of this debut book is known for creating anthropomorphic animal sculptures I really, really wanted to see what she had done in a book.

Tolly is a battle raccoon and is going on his first mission as a dream protector. After waiting for some time, he takes the dream, a glowing ghost-like creatures with a friendly smile, on their long journey. When they enter the forest of Enemy Wilds, Tolly loses heart and is afraid but with the encouragement of the Dream he vanquishes his fears. Completing his journey, he sets the dream free to come true.

Most of the illustrations are sculptures, felt, and landscapes created by hand. There are some digital touches, the glowing dream, rolling pink waves, shooting rainbows, and scribbly art representing the fears attacking Tolly. Some of the pages show small scenes from Tolly's journey, while others expand into large landscapes with painted backgrounds. Readers who share my delight with miniature sculptures will enjoy Tolly's collection of miniature tools, his felt clothing, and the many details in the landscapes like mushrooms, moss, and other details. The font moves across the page in different layouts, some of the text being in what looks like a handwritten format and some in a more uniform font.

The story itself wasn't particularly impressive. It meandered and I personally dislike sentimental stories like this that encourage vague "follow your dreams" and "believe in yourself" rhetoric. Some of the art was jarring, like the giant felt heart that represents Heart Mountain. The parents I showed it to also were a little creeped out by Tolly's teeth. But I personally loved the tiny details of the sculptures and I think this is an unusual and unique book that will interest a select audience.

Verdict: Hand this to fans of Nancy Rose's Squirrel books and Karina Schaapman's Mouse Mansion. I'd be interested in future titles from this debut author as she refines her stories.

ISBN: 9780983491750; Published 2017 by Overcup Press; Review copy provided by publisher

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