Nonsense! The Curious Story of Edward Gorey

Versify. Mar. 2020. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780358033684.
Gr 3 Up–With straightforward, rhythmic prose and deliciously atmospheric illustrations, this picture book biography of Edward Gorey distills his unconventional life and career into a format that will appeal to a wide range of readers. Gorey’s individualism is celebrated without being caricatured, and the narrative traces his life from childhood through higher education and his eventual career as a writer and illustrator. Although he was sometimes criticized for the content and darkness of his work, this book assures readers, “It would be ‘the height of folly’ to take his work seriously,” because, as the final page declares, “It was just Edward being Edward.” Bristol’s sepia-toned illustrations echo the Gothic sensibility of Gorey’s art. Mortensen’s conversational narrative is pitch perfect, evoking the rhythm and style of her subject’s prose and the works inspired by him. The detailed author’s note and list of sources make this book something that could work equally well as a classroom read-aloud and as a resource for an independent study. It could also serve as a mentor text for writing prompts and art exercises.
VERDICT This playful picture book biography is a wonderful and unique introduction to Edward Gorey’s life and work. Purchase for classroom and library nonfiction collections.

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