David Melling is a prolific author of beautifully illustrated children’s picture books. My children love his work, particularly Hugless Douglas and the books about The Scallywags. Tree Goblins is part of a new series of chapter or transitional books, for readers who are not yet ready to let go of Melling as an author and illustrator, but who need a push on from picture books to novels.
Tree Goblins is one of a whole series about different types of goblins. It includes descriptions of their lifestyle and habits, as well as a story about specific goblins. This book tells the story of a goblin couple who have just hatched three egglet babies, who look rather like conkers with arms and legs.
The male goblin has to carry the female and the babies around on his back in a kind of nest affair. One day, just as the egglets have hatched, the male, aptly named Butterfingers, drops his wife, Mildew and their babies out of the tree in which they live. As they plummet to the ground the egglets are caught by a passing owl who flies off with them.
Thus starts the egglets’ own adventure and the adventure of their parents, the tree they live in and a stray goblin who lives in a water logged sock, who need to get the babies back before they are eaten by the strange creatures that roam the goblin wood.
The book is gently humorous and mildly adventurous and illustrated throughout by Melling’s beautiful drawings in black and white. It would work well for boys and girls aged from six up to read to themselves or from five up to have it read to them. The story is rather babyish and at times flimsy so I would not recommend it for children aged over seven to be honest, unless they were very drawn to cutesy, slightly sentimental stories.
It tries to be a bit disgusting in places, but to be honest the book didn’t really work for me. It was neither one thing nor the other and I found it a bit tedious to read. It pulls too much from the story book tradiiton and not enough towards the novel, in my opinion, but there will be some children who love it because of who it’s by, and it is a nice, safe way to introduce children to stories about goblins I suppose.