You can tell author/illustrator Dav Pilkey loves gargoyles by looking around his home. It’s filled with these often grotesque creatures. Well, one day, an electrician who came by to fix something for the author noticed the collection and asked whether he was a “devil worshipper or something,” a reaction that Dav Pilkey was puzzled by. “Gargoyles aren’t evil,” the acclaimed author told the electrician, but the man still believed the creatures to be immoral despite the truth. He thought gargoyles were wicked just because of the way they looked. And in that exchange was born another hit in the author’s collection of best-selling stories.
In the story God Bless the Gargoyles, angels befriend grotesque-looking gargoyles that have guarded churches and cathedrals since the Middle Ages. The gargoyles that had been considered symbols of evil and temptation are made out to be misunderstood, lonely souls who were left behind. The blue, gentle angels come to the stone guardians to make them feel better, which they do. The angels then rescue these shadowy characters and fly them high above skyscrapers and across the vibrant hues of purple and blue that so often appear at night.
Pilkey uses rhyming pairs of couplets to tell the tales of these lonely creatures. These cadences are considered to be more of a statement than a story. Yet readers will find comfort in knowing that there are people out there who love them for who they are. Pilkey’s voice is still full of puns, but it’s in stark contrast to his typical hilarious play on words. And the illustrations are also different from the comic book-like drawings for which he is known. They are more like paintings, especially the frames around the text. According to the author’s web site, the text frames were taken from a 12th Century stained glass window called The Flight into Egypt.
In a way, the gargoyles in this book are similar to Oscar, the dachshund star of Dav Pilkey’s children’s book The Hallo-wiener. They both feel like outcasts. Gargoyles feel ostracized from the world, as did Oscar. There’s a lesson to be learned by the author’s intended audience of five- to eight-year-olds and also by their parents: First impressions aren’t always accurate!