Review: The Magical Fantastical Fridge by Harlan Coben and Leah Tinari


Hardcover, 48 pages
Published February 16th 2016 by Dial Books
Source: Publisher

I haven’t read anything by Harlan Coben so I cannot judge his writing fully from The Magical Fantastical Fridge but then again, neither have I previously seen Leah Tinari’s work and yet I feel quite equipped to evaluate her art by just this one picturebook.

I suppose the dilemma comes from the fact that a picturebook is sometimes largely a performance where the writing is not always the most important aspect of it. I am evaluating this picturebook on the basis of my reading of it. I do think the experience will be quite different were I to be read it as a parent reads a book to their child.

Now that we have that overly long intro out of the way, let us talk about The Magical Fantastical Fridge.


The art is certainly vibrant; the colours are popping and Walden’s expressions are various and often fierce. My niece (she’s three) adores the typography and says that the words are dancing around the page and it’s true, the spacing and the sizing of the fonts often give a life to the words that almost seem independent of the story they tell.

I think older kids will enjoy the word games (malapropisms among others) though they may also have other questions like how is Walden able to jump from one picture on the fridge to another and are the people in the pictures alive.

Personally, I enjoyed the art more than I did the writing but there’s a lot more art than there is writing. The success of this picturebook will depend mainly on the parents being able to keep their child engaged in Walden’s plight. And possibly reenacting the entire thing with the contents on their own fridges the next day.

5 responses to “Review: The Magical Fantastical Fridge by Harlan Coben and Leah Tinari

  1. I find that, a lot as well, that I love the artistry of a children’s book but that the story sort of seems like an afterthought, or just clunky and contorted to fit the images. I do love the unique style of this artwork, though!

  2. Picture books are so fascinating to me because they’re so often created by two creators working independently – authors rarely get any input in how their stories are illustrated, so you really have to have faith in your publisher and their vision! I often feel like illustrators are the unsung heroes of the picture book world and don’t get nearly enough praise and recognition for all the magic they bring to picture books.

    • I think this one was done a bit differently. Coben actually came across Tinari’s art and he liked it so much, he decided to collaborate with her and create this picturebook. Let me know what you think of this one. I feel like the art is successful, the story is somewhat more complicated than the medium allows for.

      • Oh, that’s really interesting! That kind of collaboration seems pretty uncommon (I remember hearing about an author who was livid because the illustrator turned the characters into talking dogs, which apparently didn’t match the writer’s vision) so I’m even more curious now to see the finished product.

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