Early Book Review: Old Misery by James Sage, Russell Ayto

Old Misery is a picturebook written by James Sage and illustrated by Russell Ayto. It is currently scheduled for release on May 1 2018. Poor Old Misery. She and her old cat, Rutterkin, “ain't got two pennies to rub together.” And the one thing of value she does have ---a tree, filled with good eating apples --- is regularly ransacked by humans and animals of all kinds who make off with armloads of apples! So, one day, when a surprise visitor grants her a wish, Old Misery tells him, “There's but one wish for me, mister, and it's this here: whoever I catch stealing apples off my tree will get stuck to it until I decide to let them go!” At first, it seems like her wish was a terrific idea, as she catches all the apple thieves and sends them on their way for good. But then Old Misery decides to use her new power on another surprise visitor. And she learns what may be the most miserable lesson of all: be careful what you wish for!
Old Misery is a slightly macabre story about why misery will always be here. Old Misery is poor, with only a cat and an apple tree to call her own. She uses the wish from one surprise visitor to protect her tree, and then to trap another surprise visitor- gaining herself immortality with a steep price to pay. I like that the artwork by Ayto is reminiscent of the art of Gris Grimly and Edward Gorey, which made me happy. I liked the clean style, and it matched the story very well. The voice of the story is unique, and tells a story that includes trickery, death, and more. It might be a little dark for some young readers, but I think it will appeal to many.

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