Are you a fan of Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” series? Do you like Jill Thompson? Do you like all-ages comics and storybooks? If you answered yes to these questions: you read “The Little Endless Storybooks.”
“Sandman” was a series that was introduced to me by a friend some years ago, and I was instantly sucked in to the overall world of Dream and the rest of The Endless. The high fantasy was done in a way that was largely missing from comics today (and still is). Sometime later, another friend lent me two books related to The Endless entitled “The Little Endless Storybooks” from Jill Thompson. I instantly knew I had to read them. Unsurprisingly enough: I was not disappointed by what I read.
“The Little Endless Storybooks” have a simple premise: it’s a story written in a manner kids can understand, but doesn’t miss any of the nuances between the family that Dream and Delirium belong to. The protagonist in both books is the youngest of The Endless, Delirium. She’s a brash, easily distracted, excitable girl who goes on flights of fancy and forgets what exactly it is she’s doing from one moment to the next. She has a friend, her dog Barnabas, who is the more responsible of the two. In “The Little Endless Storybook,” Barnabas and Delirium are separated from each other, and it follows Barnabas as he tries to find his companion. In it, he meets her siblings, from Dream to Despair to Death, collecting little trinkets along the way to help in the search for Delirium. It’s an adorable story with a theme of friendship between the two main characters.
The second book, “Delirium’s Party,” gives Delirium more of a central role as she is trying to plan a party for her older sister Despair, who seems down. She does her best to make her sister feel better, and in the end she succeeds, but in a way you might not expect. Both books are written by creator Neil Gaiman’s friend and wonderful creator in her own right: Jill Thompson.
The series itself is very quirky and most importantly; it’s a lot of fun. Anyone could read it and be sucked into the light and fun universe of “The Little Endlesses.” You can read them with your kids if you have any, but the real treat is that you don’t NEED to read them to your kids to enjoy them, they’re all-ages books that, like “Bone,” resonate across generations. Quite literally anyone can sit down with one of these and enjoy it. Will either take you very long to read? Of course not! Since they’re written with the express idea of being a children’s storybook, they’re not very dense in the least, and can be read in 15 minutes at the most, or as a child’s bedtime story. Which is the point, right? If you want something densely written, you can always read “Sandman.”
One of the best parts of these books, in addition to Jill Thompson’s light hearted storytelling in both books, is Jill Thompson’s absolutely stunning watercolor art throughout. The books are laid out much like any storybook you’ve read, with text on one page, and a full page of art on the other, with some smaller pieces throughout the book. Thompson’s watercolors give the characters a whole new life. The vibrant colors jump off the page, especially in the case of Delirium, whose whole persona is based on a lively color palate. However, while the watercolors help give her a great page presence, it doesn’t diminish darker characters like Dream or Despair, who are just as vibrant, despite the fact they have a much more, shall we say “limited” color scheme. If the book weren’t stunning as it is, the art pushes it over the edge and makes it a must read.
But like I said earlier, the most important thing about these books is that they’re a lot of fun. If you’re not having fun reading comics, then what’s the point of reading any at all? If you want to have fun with some engaging characters in a somewhat different setting, you should definitely pick these up from amazon or more importantly, your local comic shop.