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Apr 03

Robins sign there... nicely censoring any squirrel jiblets.Click for full image

Patrick Comments: They might well look worried.
Published 1993

Actually, that cover IS a classical work of art!I would touch it without protective gloves.I've seen worse. Far, far, worse.Interesting, but I would still read it in public.Middlng: Neither awful nor awfully goodWould not like to be seen reading that!Awful... just awful...That belongs in a gold-lame picture frame!Gah... my eyes are burning! Feels so good!Good Show Sir! (Average: 7.68 out of 10)
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19 Responses to “The Oaken Throne”

  1. THX 1138 Says:

    Actually, the squirrel wasn’t meant to be in the picture, hence his expression.

  2. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    By God, Eliot, it is a photograph from life!

  3. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    In the Uncanny Valley of the Mammalia

  4. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    @SI: Flip back to your comments for Rx is Chaos. Do you remember your race of topless warrior hampster women that stored swords in their cheeks? Behold, I present them to you!

  5. Alessandra Kelley Says:

    Y’know, on a Redwall book earlier I suggested that the art was not cartoony enough, and I suspect I’m going to have to eat those words.

    First, I do have to give credit for an unusual approach and an interesting use of color and light.

    So … Here we have an upper-class squirrel of indeterminate gender and a lower-class bat who is most definitely male (Not like that. Geez. I mean he has facial features, a facial expression, and a posture that British children’s book illustrators always give to the comic-relief male lower-class sidekick. He probably talks like Penfold from Dangermouse.) on an epic quest somewhere. The squirrel will have a normal heroic name. The bat probably has a name like Bindlestick or something and by the end of the book will be hopelessly devoted to the squirrel. C’mon, it’s a trope.

    The squirrel’s fur is close-fitting enough that we can tell it has an innie bellybutton, but the panel thoughtfully painted in at the bottom means we don’t know its gender. Based on the goofy eyelashes and the wheatstraw braid on top of its head, I’m guessing girl. (By the way, do European squirrels really have pointed ears like those? In North America they all have tiny round little ears like mice.)

    The bat’s position is indeterminate. Is he flying? Or is he hanging off a hook in the panels behind him? He has a sort of hand on his left wing, but nothing but bones on his right. His left foot appears to be a tiny handlike thing (a little above the “a” in the author’s name). Accounting for all the handlike things, that can only mean that that is his right foot holding the dagger under the squirrel’s elbow, since both “her” hands are visible above — and it is disconceringly larger than his left foot. So he’s flying around right next to her with a dagger in his paw.

    Looking closer, I can see he has one of those medievalish bowl-shaped haircuts popularized by the Brother Cadfael TV series.

    Okay, now I’m going to go look up the book.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Oaken_Throne

    Huh. It’s the epic quest of the squirrel princess Ysabelle and the bat Vespertilio.

    Sounds kind of dark. There is betrayal, poisoning, murder, suicide, torture, onscreen ritual sacrifice to dark gods by being skinned alive, doomladen prophecy, excrucitaing violence, and a semitragic ending.

    Which means if it were made into a movie, the MPAA would rate it PG (suitable for all but the youngest children) since it has no sex.

    But also means that the cover is kind of misleading. I would have thought it a children’s story.

  6. Yoss Says:

    Nice detail work on the squirrel’s navel. You hardly ever see that.

  7. fred Says:

    Judging by the glare from the approaching headlights this cover isn’t going to end well.
    And it gives me a Moody Blues 70’s album cover vibe for some reason.

  8. Lizzy Says:

    I had this book, and the rest of Robin Jarvis’ titles and can reassure everyone that might be worried. All the covers were like this.

    They were/are great, creepy children’s books though.

  9. Ian Says:

    Nice frame under/around the authors name. Strategically placed no doubt.

  10. Jerk of all Trades Says:

    All this primo crazy, and yet the thing that gets me most is that the squirrel has a navel. And not just any navel, but a navel that is visible through its pelt.

    I bet it stores acorns in there.

  11. Jerk of all Trades Says:

    Also I see that these fine nightmare-squirrels and fugue-bats do their “pinky-swears” old school. Like, with a knife.

  12. vampy-ra Says:

    I see nothing wrong here. I like it.

  13. Skuds Sister Says:

    Robin Jarvis is a great author who has recently started publishing again (try Dancing Jax or Freax and Rejex) and, although they are listed as teen books, they are very dark and disturbing. Jarvis is not afraid to get you involved with a character and then kill them. Brutally. A friend’s daughter, who said the stomach-bursting scene in Alien was ‘cool’, had to stop reading one of the Deptford Mice books after a pitched battle scene which was littered with bodies…

  14. Jane Says:

    Is the bat-thing actually flying? He’s looks drunk or half-asleep.

  15. Herm Says:

    JARVIS! Robin Jarvis bloody traumatised my childhood. First the Deptford Mice, then this series. Good gravy this stuff was dark.

    This is the cover from my copy. The art is an accurate representation, and I don’t think it’s particularly bad. I believe the squirrel lady shown is drawn accurately too; she was very old, completely white/grey and blind. But I never liked how her face was painted.

  16. Ross Says:

    Regarding the Artist being unknown – it’s Robert Jarvis himself. He illustrated all his own books.

    Great children’s author – do the modern British children’s writers keep alive the tradition of either killing off/corrupting characters, and/or cloaking every story with an air of menace, I wonder?

  17. Tom Noir Says:

    That bat looks like a donkey.

    Also, the phrase ‘bat looks like a donkey’ can be sung to the tune of ‘dude looks like a lady’.

    Try it yourself!

  18. A.R.Yngve Says:

    This cover is SO disturbing, but I can’t put my finger on precisely what makes it so creepy… is it the navel? The eyes? The “on acid” lighting? The schizoid juxtaposition of a mundane word like “Deptford” with art like that? Or all combined?

    Don’t look at it for too long, you might go mad.

  19. anon Says:

    @Ian: I’m grateful it was placed there.

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