I have always admired and even envied the Fraggles. I grew up watching them, wondering just what Doozer construction tasted like (it couldn’t really taste like radishes!), worrying with Boober, and wishing I could get a postcard from Uncle Traveling Matt. So it was wonderful to revisit Fraggle Rock in Archaia’s second collection of short stories, Tails and Tales.
This collection gathers together nine stories about the Fraggles. Some are quick reads, such as Uncle Traveling Matt’s “Shopping with Silly Creatures,” an exploration of the mysterious laundromat, and “Boober and the Ghastly Stain,” a four-page story on the perpetually-pessimistic Boober’s adventures to create the perfect stain remover.
Lengthier stories read like full-length episodes of the show. “Wembley and the Great Dream-Capade!” finds indecisive Wembley visiting the dreams of his friends, but never finding one that he can enjoy until Marjory the Trash Heap reminds him that our dreams, no matter how dull, are always special to us. In “The Meaning of Life,” Gobo decides to finish an adventure his uncle never could – discovering the meaning of life! His friends accompany him on the dangerous journey, but when they discover a map that warns they must leave home and travel alone, they return to Fraggle Rock, realizing that home and friendship are what makes life important.
While most stories feature the five main fraggles, other favorite characters are included; Large Marvin, Cantus the Minstrel, and the Doozers all appear in the collection. Missing, however, are the Gorgs, Doc, & Sprocket. For younger readers who may not have seen the Fraggles before, the book still has lots of appeal. There’s a quick intro for each character, but the stories stay so true to the original format that it’s just as easy to read without ever having watched Fraggle Rock. At the heart of each story is a lesson, sometimes lighthearted and others with a deeper meaning. The foreward, by Dave Goelz (puppeteer of Boober and Gonzo), tells us that Jim Henson’s hope with Fraggle Rock was to create a show that stops war and promotes harmony.
There’s a wide range of styles in the artwork. Some mimic the show precisely (down to a creepy gloss on the fraggles’ eyes) and others are more stylized. Katie Cook’s “My Gift is My Song” has a simplistic cartoon version of the characters with clean lines and bold colors. “Brave Sir Wembley” features art by Cory Godbey, who combines abstract watercolor for the underground caverns with wooly, animated fraggles and epic hand-lettering.
The book includes extras, such as tips on stretching from Red and how to make fingerprint art. There are instructions on how to cut a radish flower, which seem out of place in a book intended for young children, and a coloring page which is most likely from the comic but seems odd in the gorgeous hardcover book. Readers will find sketches and creator biographies at the end of the collection. This book will appeal to kids as well as adults who are eager to revisit a childhood favorite and enjoy some creative takes on the fraggles.
Fraggle Rock: Tails and Tales
Stories by Tim Beedle, Jason M. Burns, Katie Cook, Jake T. Forbes, Joe LeFavi, Paul Morrissey, Grace Randolph, Katie Strickland
Art by David Petersen, Heidi Arnhold, Nichol Ashworth, Ross Campbell, Lindsay Cibos, Katie Cook, Joanna Estep, Chandra Free, Cory Godbey, Hendry Iwanaga, Lizzy John, Chris Lie, Mark Simmons, Fandy Soegiarto