While Maze Runner Mondays will pick back up now that SDCC is behind me, one book that I was thrilled to encounter twice by happenstance is one that I’ll be reading and reviewing as soon as I’m done catching up on blogs is Evangeline Lilly’s The Squickerwonkers.
I was lucky enough to be squatting in 6A for other panels, and the first panel that day was Evangeline Lilly, promoting her “children’s” book The Squickerwonkers. I put children’s in quotes because, despite the adorable picture above, I’m 27 and I’m psyched to read this book!
Now as a LOSTie, I’d be happy at any panel with Evangeline Lilly, but this was a real treat, because she was so real and down to earth. She was a delightful combination of being up front and frank about how she understands people may be turned off when they hear about an actor or director and their “passion projects”, while also being very open and personal about how proud she is that as someone who’s “always wanted to write” that after first being a “self-published author” because she couldn’t get anyone to publish The Squickerwonkers, that she could now sit in her panel as a “published author”.
The book, as she explained started as a poem when she was fourteen, and upon mentioning the age at which this idea began she was encouraging to an audience filled with children and their parents, when she stated that if you have a wacky idea when you’re young, that you shouldn’t write it off “just because you’re a kid”. The story follows a young girl named Selma who encounters the nine Squickerwonkers, each of them with a different vice that Selma has to learn to deal with, as we learn that Selma isn’t so perfect herself.
The artwork for the book, which is illustrated by Johnny Fraser-Allen of WETA is amazing. There’s not a lot of it online, but if you go to the website for The Squickerwonkers, you’ll get an idea of it there. It’s a neat blend of sketchiness and softness, that gives the book an almost antique feel, as Fraser-Allen used water colors, and digital editing.
For the content of the book, Evangeline Lilly explained that in so many ways it’s not just for children, and that part of the main theme of the book fits with the notion that can be derived from two quotes that she used during the panel, which were:
Moliere: I prefer an interesting vice to a boring virtue
Anonymous: Don’t judge someone, because they sin differently than you.
When the Q&A from the audience opened up, the first in line was an adorable seven year old, who appropriately asked “Can a seven year old read your book?” With genuine delight, Evangeline Lilly invited the girl on stage, turned excitedly to a page in her book, and had the girl read it aloud. After, she immediately signed the only copy of the book that she brought with her to the panel, and gave it to the girl.
The next question was a middle aged man, who jokingly asked “Can a 35 year old read your book?” In all seriousness though, another question asked was what age she’d classify her book as being for, and she explained that the book really can’t be limited like that.
Then, I had the opportunity to ask, because she’d talked about her book having a deliberate message woven in, how much of it is initially accessible to kids, compared to adults who may either read it for the first time, or in years to come find themselves re-reading the book, and being able to have an “Ah-ha” moment, and understand what she was getting at. (To be honest though, I’m sure I wasn’t that articulate… and I did break my personal “don’t say I love(d) you on ______”, because it was Evangeline Lilly, and I did love her on LOST).
Anyway she responded that I may as well have opened a “Pandora’s box”, when it came to her not being able to stop talking if she fully answered my question, but she did give a short answer, which is yes, and that for parents of kids with the book, she hopes that as they pick up on things and are able to deliberately but not overtly guide their children in understanding the major themes of the book. She also gave a short story, about a friend of hers with an 11 year old who read the book, then later that week got incredibly emotional over homework, and when their father mentioned Selma the son shouted “It’s a METAPHOR isn’t it!!!”
After the panel, I was determined that once her book got it’s big release in November that I’d definitely get a copy, not just because I wanted to support Evangeline Lilly as an author, but also because I really wanted the book.
Imagine my surprise when on Sunday, while perusing the exhibit hall for what ended up being an un-findable copy of Ms. Marvel #17 from the 70’s that I passed the booth where copies of a limited 1,000 book run of The Squickerwonkers was being sold, AND that Evangeline Lilly was there AND that she was signing copies and taking photos with those that purchased her book! Now, I normally don’t care much for signings, usually because they happen during precious panel time, and because they usually have long lines. Well while I would have stood in a long line for her book, autograph and photo, serendipitously there was no line (well there was, but only about 20 people were ahead of me). It was one of those magical SDCC moments that without all the planning and waiting, awesomeness abounds. So of course, I got the book and the photo, my only regret is had I planned for it, I’d have done nicer make up that day!
All of that being said, I’m still wowed by the fact that I was able to get a copy of the book, and when she asked if “I’d be back next year”, after I told her that I couldn’t wait to get the rest of the series as it was published, I gave her an enthusiastic YEAH! and I meant it. Next year I’ll be at her panel and signing by choice instead of chance, regardless of lines or other panels!