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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
Author Teresa Traver tickles children’s imaginations with a sweet little tale about friendship and courage. When the little kitten Spooky was taken into the old Maxwell place as her new home, she least expected to encounter an unusual friend. As she does the rounds of the Gothic-style residence, she takes to the garden and meets Eben, the stone gargoyle on a pedestal by the mansion’s gate. At first, Spooky believes that it is a typical, inanimate statue. As she checks it out, the gruff gargoyle speaks and brushes her off. The gargoyle, who goes by the name of Eben, cannot be bothered with playtime, as he is preoccupied with sentry duty. Spooky, curious and inquisitive, decides to stay put and get to know Eben.
Both story and pictures lead young readers to clear sequential events as Spooky learns to overcome her fear to save her gargoyle friend. Those of us familiar with and weaned on fables while growing up may notice the story is reflective of Aesop’s Lion and the Mouse tale in terms of theme—that friendship and courage can come in different sizes. Yet, Spooky and the Gargoyle is a story distinct in itself by establishing an original conflict that makes Spooky and Eben’s friendship stronger. Ariana Dahlenburg’s illustrations effectively create a bleak backdrop in contrast with the wholesomeness of a kitten’s adventure. This unlikely tandem of a kitten and a gargoyle will make a great bedtime story and a reminder for children to awaken their courage.