This collection of poems are essentially short stories about misunderstood children, outcast from society and mentally tortured by their abnormalities. Such characters include “The Boy with Nails in His Eyes”, “The Pin Cushion Queen” and “Jimmy, the Hideous Penguin Boy”. Each short story portrays the loneliness and sadness, which consume these characters as they struggle to find compassion, love and acceptance in their lives.
Each story is simply, yet beautifully illustrated by Burton who designs the sets, costumes and mise-en-scene for his films in the same intricate manner. The illustrations are almost childish but provoke a feeling of deep sorrow in the reader. Each illustration is roughly coloured with faint watercolours enhancing the fragility and innocence of youth in these individuals. . In contrast to the saddening drawings, the poems are surprisingly funny in a twisted, typically Burton-esque way. The stories are a complex combination of humour and tragedy, disguising deep and serious subtexts with a light hearted mask.
Although this book has the appearance of an illustrated storybook for children, the macabre subjects of the stories and satirical humour can only be fully appreciated by adults. But it is the childlike and innocent nature of the book which makes it such an unusually enchanting and cherished read.