Five Books About…

Five Books Featuring Goblins

We’re excited to show off the cover of Nobody Likes a Goblin, a new picture book by Ben Hatke, coming June 2016 from First Second! The book is inspired by Hatke’s experiences with Dungeons & Dragons and other RPGs where, to be honest, goblins get kind of a bad rap. Hatke describes his book over on Sharp Read:

I’ve written a picture books for the goblins. For the weakest, grimiest denizens of our fantasy worlds. Goblins are the ugly little creatures everyone feels comfortable hating, even thought they don’t pose much of a threat. I decided to give the goblins a chance. I sent a goblin on a quest (his name is Goblin) and he became one of my favorite characters.

Below, Ben Hatke shares five other stories that feature goblins—from cave-dwellers to baby-stealers, they’re not usually shown in a very good light. Plus, check out the full cover as well as some additional art from Nobody Likes a Goblin!


Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tokien

This book will forever play the largest part in my conception of Goblins and goblin society, from their rusty swords and their gleefully wicked songs to their cavernous underground colonies. “Down, down to Goblin Town!”


The Goblin Companion: A Field Guide to Goblins by Brian Froud and Terry Jones

Since I can’t include Jim Henson’s Labyrinth I am opting for Froud and Jones’ fun art-book which loosely details the stories behind many of the Goblins in Labyrinth. Froud gives us page after page of rusty, spiked armor and a vast array of goblin-y shapes and goblin-y sizes.


Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak

Goblin-y would be a good adjective for much of Sendak’s work but the art in Outside Over There is just masterful. The story of a girl named Ida who searches after her baby sister who is stolen away by Goblins. (In the sister’s place the goblins leave a changeling made of ice!) Sendak has reminded the world time and again that a good picture book is more than saccharine sweetness. Real danger and creepy weirdness can work very well in children’s stories.


“Little Orphant Annie” by James Whitcomb Riley

A poem from my home-state of Indiana and written in an old Hoosier dialect. In the poem an orphan girl comes to stay with a family and tells stories of various misbehaving children who are snatched away by goblins, never to be seen again. When I was a very little Ben Hatke my dad was involved in a restoration project of the original James Whitcomb Riley home and I remember wandering the house and grounds where the poem was written and thinking about goblins…


Monster Manual (Dungeons & Dragons)

I’m including the D&D monster manual because it includes goblins and related creatures and because, time and again, in my weekly gaming sessions I will get lost reading the Monster Manual and lose track of the game entirely. A book that can do that is recommendable.


HONORABLE MENTION: The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B Dunkle

About a pair of sisters in the early 1800s who move to the countryside and get mixed up in the world of Goblins. The elder sister, Kate, ends up marrying the goblin king. It’s been years since I’ve read this, but I’m including it because I remember being struck by the character description of the goblin king, Marak Sixfinger.


Ben Hatke is the author and illustrator of the New York Times bestselling Zita the Spacegirl trilogy, the picture book Julia’s House for Lost Creatures, and the graphic novel Little Robot. He lives and works in the Shenandoah Valley with his wife and their boisterous pack of daughters. His next book is the picture book Nobody Likes a Goblin, coming in June 2016.


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