Thursday, May 27, 2021

Review: Cliff the Failed Troll by Barbara Davis-Pyles


(Warning: There be Pirates in this Book!)
by Barbara Davi-Pyles
Illustrated by Justin Hillgrove
Little Bigfoot
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

This sweet and funny story is about feeling different and embracing who we are.

A fun and original story by Barbara Davis-Pyles, author of Grizzly Boy and Stubby the Fearless Squid, about a troll named Cliff who isn't very good at sitting still or being a "proper" troll. He'd much rather be a pirate anyway!

"Ahoy!" he shouts upon meeting other trolls, who then remind him that the proper troll hello is "Go away!" After a report card full of Fs in bridge building, stoney staring, and even goat gobbling (he's a vegetarian!), Cliff sets off for pirate school.

But are things different for him there? Aye, that they arrrre!

This humorous story is about appreciating who we are and knowing there is a place where we fit in the world.



The cover caught my eye on this one, and it's as fun of a read as I'd hoped.

Cliff is a troll, but he's nothing like the other trolls. For one, he's smaller....and he can sing...and he can't sit still forever...and he loves pirate things. When he realizes that no matter what he does, he can't fit the expected troll role, he heads out and meets pirates. And maybe, just maybe, he's found a home.

The illustrations on this one do a great job at making a troll likeable, while not trampling on the more traditional troll ideas completely. While they are ugly-ish and not friendlish, Clifff is so cute! He's the kind of troll any young reader would want to meet and join as he heads to adventure.

Young listeners will have no trouble connecting to Cliff's problems as the author has kept them exactly at the level the age group will understand. When he heads out, although sad, he immediately meets a strange friend, and this keeps the entire thing from running in too negative a direction even for more sensitive readers. The pirates are funny and still a bit 'dangerous'. Add the ending with a quirky surprise, and it's simply a cute read with a nice message wrapped in.

And here she is...

BARBARA DAVIS-PYLES, author of Grizzly Boy and Stubby the Fearless Squid, has written hundreds of fiction and nonfiction pieces for the children's education market. In addition to her curriculum-based work, she helped create A Day in the Meadow (with composer Frederick Frahm), a pipe organ demonstrator for children (Wayne Leupold Editions, 2006). When Barbara's not writing, she can be found hiking, biking, or packing for a road trip. She lives in the northwest corner of Washington State with her family. Find out more at HILLGROVE is a Pacific Northwest artist who loves painting monsters, robots, and other such nonsense, and has worked on everything from comics and toys to tabletop games. Justin lives in Snohomish, Washington with his wife, four kids, some chickens and ducks, a rabbit, and a dozen or so imaginary friends. Learn more about Justin at

No comments: