Review: Nobody Likes a Goblin – Ben Hatke


Hardcover, 40 pages
Expected publication: June 7th 2016 by First Second
Source: Publisher

Ben Hatke does it again!

Nobody Likes a Goblin is about Goblin (both used as an appellation and an identifier for what he is) who is living happily in his rundown castle with a skeleton for a friend until invaders come and take both the treasure (which was the primary goal, I believe) and Goblin’s friend. They also try to kill him for no reason other than his Goblin-ness. Goblin escapes and follows these invaders out into the world finding that no one likes a goblin. He is chased by people and elves with swords and other sharp (and threatening) objects. He perseveres and manages to rescue his skeleton friend (who is animated and not just a pile of bones) and find a community who accepts him in all his goblin-ness.

At a first glance, Nobody Likes a Goblin is a cute and funny story but a deeper look reveals the complexity of the entire narrative. If you were to consider Goblin a metaphor, you could easily do a post-colonial reading of the book. His castle and dungeon are invaded by outsiders who steal everything that is his and who go so far as to vilify him for who and what he is. Goblin is Othered not just by his physical self but also by his social position.

The book can be used in several different ways–for kids who are being bullied or for kids who are having difficulties finding communities of their own to belong to, this book will be a solace. Parents can use this book to approach sensitive topics like friendship (or the lack of them) or simply use it as a heartwarming bedtime story.

I’m a huge Ben Hatke fan. He takes simple premises and makes them complex and a pleasure to read.