After looking at Chris Riddell as an illustrator recently, I thought it would be fun to look at him as an author as well, especially as he has now been named the writer in residence at Book Trust. I have to say, I’m thrilled with Book Trust’s choice and recognition of Chris Riddell’s immense talent as both an author and illustrator. And he quite rightly won the Costa Children’s Book prize of 2013 for his brilliantly clever Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse.
Goth Girl is clearly written for adults to enjoy as they read to their children. It is a gothic novel written for children, but the text has many puns, references to literary works, characters as well as parodies to keep adults amused as well.
The story itself is about Ada Goth, the daughter of famous poet Lord Goth, who seems to want little to do with his daughter since her mother died. They live in Ghastly-Gorm Hall where Ada has no friends and very little social interaction with anyone, until the day when the ghost of a mouse appears in her bedroom. As Ada tries to determine why the mouse was killed in a trap, she begins to encounter the other children who are working within her house, and together they discover a disturbing plan for Lord Goth’s annual indoor hunt.
The plot itself is rather simple, but the book’s charm comes from the wittiness of the text and drawings. Like all of his work as an illustrator, Chris Riddell allows his illustrations to provide another element to the story, rather than treating them as supplementary. It is more obvious in this book where he has been both author and illustrator, where he is fully in control of the world he has created. It’s beautiful, clever and is certain to make you at least grin at all the clever references and plays on words.