Written by John LeFleur
Illustrated by Shawn Dubin
Dreary and Naughty are new kids in school. How will the other students relate to them? After all, Dreary and Naughty aren’t your usual middle or high schoolers. Dreary is the son of the Grim Reaper and Naughty the daughter of the Devil. The parents have sent their children to a school for mortals to help Dreary and Naughty learn about the inhumanity of mortals.
Written in couplets and four line stanzas, the poem story is dedicated to “the misunderstood, the under-appreciated, the confused, the troubled, the anxiety ridden, the overlooked, and the lonely everywhere.” Dreary and Naughty are all of these, and the other high school students don’t know what to do about them for D & N are so unusual. The result is a story of bullying and hatred that end in what could be called “hate crimes.”
Black and white sketches illustrate the right side of each double-page. Only Dreary’s skull face shows under a hoodie; Naughty has haunting vacant eyes and wears edgy teen clothes. The homes of Dreary and Naughty are creepily made of bone and fire.
While an obvious lesson for numerous classroom or club discussions about divergent lifestyles and acceptance, and while it has the appearance of a picture book, it is definitely not for the young reader. The illustrations of the students in the school are very obviously middle or high school; the main characters are seductive and blatantly evil looking. The other students wear the usual school jackets and preppy outfits, but their thoughts and actions indicate they are prejudiced.
This is the first of a slightly revised version of a 2003 trilogy initially published by Dragonfly Books featuring Dreary and Naughty. In 2003, the book was ahead of its time, featuring characters not part of mainstream literature. A current, more open culture may be drawn via interest in the occult and paranormal.