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April 15, 2018


James Sage and Russell Ayto's Old Misery examines the perpetual existence of misery in the world through a satiric and allegorical lens.

Old Misery is a poor woman with an old cat named Rutterkin and an apple tree that she values beyond all else. But humans and animals of all kinds keep stealing her apples, and she's just about at her wits' end. So when a surprise visitor stops by and grants Old Misery a wish, Old Misery wishes that everyone who tries to steal her apples gets stuck to the tree until she decides to let them go. It comes in handy more than once, especially when Death comes to visit and gets stuck there, too. But can Death outsmart Old Misery and give her what she truly deserves?

The pen-and-ink illustrations and macabre tone of the book both serve as glorious homages to Edward Gorey. Ayto uses larges amounts of white space to offset the intricate crosshatching throughout, and the dollops of red in each of the apples add another layer of whimsy to an otherwise dark story. Those whimsical layers are what make the story funny and accessible for young readers, and the best part is that the book ends with a twist on a twist that serves up some sweet revenge for everyone. 

Old Misery publishes May 1 from Kids Can Press!

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