The Adventures of Gremlin by DuPre Jones (1966)
My pick for this week's Friday's Forgotten Books is a quirky little fairy tale, The Adventures of Gremlin by DuPre Jones.
Gremlin is a little girl who lives with her brother Zeppelin and their father in a forest in the kingdon of Etaoin. Their mother (named Little John) had dumped the family to become a seamstrees for a philanthropist named Robin Hood. Tired of living only on kumquats and rutabagas, the pair decide to leave home. In a short time they encounter a Latin-speaking wombat and then a Latin speaking kakapo, who warns them to avoid the Enchanted Forest where people enter and come out as a toad or a snake. The two immediately decide to go to the Enchanted Forest. Among those they meet on their adventures are a witch (they eat her house), a bear (who eats Zeppelin -- don't fear, Zeppelin dies several times in the books, a la South Park's Kenny), a metaphysical poet who writes only limericks, a giant, a knight, and many other stock fairy tale figures -- each with a unique and sly twist on their tropes.
Some pirates and beatniks and a white whale later, Gremlin and Zeppelin arrive at the palace, where they stop a revolt. Somehow, Gremlin is the country's long-lost princess, so she and Zeppelin ensconce themselves in the palace, where Zeppelin starts on the road to depravity. While the king is demanding that Gremlin marry, Zeppelin plots to take over the kingdom and Gremlin looks to Etaoin's neighboring and rival kindom Shrdlu for help.
All this in 112 pages.
Here the king must punish his head manservant for calling Gremlin "rabble":
"Then I have no recourse but to have your head cut off." The king turned to Gremlin.
"I hope you consider that sufficient punishment."
'Oh, yes," Gremlin said. "That's capital."
As an extra bonus, not only are the illustrations by Edward Gorey (Zeppelin's shirt changes slightly in each marvelous illustration), but he also did the book design.
This one's a winner.