Review: The Little Devil
By Simone Solon
There is a little Devil in all of us.
This brilliant children’s book is based on the idea that we all have our mischievous side. While it leads to adventures outside of the norm, while a certain amount of hi-jinks keeps one creative, this trickster spirit can go too far. Childhood is a time to live and learn, to discover through experience where the boundaries are and what the difference is between having fun and causing harm or distress to others.
The idle brain is the Devil’s playground.
The story opens with three children being naughty. five-year-old Elizabeth, inspired by the Muse of boredom, is drawing colorful fishes all over her bedroom wallpaper. Her older brother, Jason, is supposed to be minding her, but has sealed himself into his room to play video games. Their teenage cousin, Jasmine, is also shirking her duty writing postcards to her family and friends. Suddenly, Elizabeth sees a monkey swinging in a tree in the garden and runs to tell the others. But this is no monkey. It is the Little Devil come to tempt them. The vice of this particular little devil, with his red skin and horns and long, pointy tail, is that he loves to eat human food, stuffing himself so full that he can hardly walk.
Seven Deadly Sins
And tempt them he does, leading them deeper and deeper into trouble. Like most devilish pursuits, at first its relatively harmless fun. Like ransacking the food cupboard to feed the Little Devil. But things gradually escalate. Soon the Little Devil has the children jumping off rooftops and, luckily, flying, convincing Jasmine to starve herself to get thin, trespassing on a man-eating troll, creating magical mayhem at a party, until they are finally flying through the night like bombers, trashing the village, destroying homes, all in the name of fun.
Solon’s Little Devil is a master of manipulation and situational morality. She understands how wickedness sneaks up and gradually takes over. Beginning with a breakdown in social values such as good manner sand consideration for others in order to maximize fun, each boundary is breached until conscience is corrupted. Luckily for the children, an elderly neighbor, Mrs. Bevan, knows that Little Devil and is able to help the children turn the tables on him and, in so doing, set him free.
This very well-written chapter book and is fairly long, but Solon’s adventures and magical touches, like the well in the woods that leads to the Otherworld, keep the pages turning. The illustrations by Katriona Chapman are delightful. This is a great story for teaching children the basic difference between right and wrong, a truth that has gone by the wayside in the last few decades. The story illustrates, through the spirit of play, how things can go wrong, and the sometimes painful consequences for others when one gives full reign to selfishness. The surprise ending is transformational.
Find the book at: www.glimmerbooks.com