Book review: The Ticking has strange characters and a delicate, obsessive-looking illustration style

I recently read The Ticking by the acclaimed artist Renée French, and was enchanted by her strange characters and delicate, obsessive-looking illustration style. Her drawings remind me of mysterious, old black and white photographs.

This book came out in 2006 and I wish I would have known about it back then, because I would have loved this when I was a kid. The Ticking, drawn in graphite, is about a boy named Edison Steelhead. Steelhead is raised in a remote lighthouse on an island and has a deformed face. Edison connects to the world around him by drawing in his sketchbook. I love how every couple pages or so, one of Edison's sketchbook drawings is shown as its own page.

French explores the relationship between darkness and beauty throughout Edison's journey in this 126 page story. I really enjoyed the way that the minimal amount of text throughout the story leaves a lot up for interpretation within the striking artwork. The Tickling is a magical story for both kids and adults.