Book Review: THE STUMPS OF FLATTOP HILL by Ken Lamug

The Stumps of Flattop Hill - Cover art

The Stumps of Flattop Hill – cover art image courtesy of Ken Lamug

Ken Lamug’s THE STUMPS OF FLATTOP HILL brings a long-overdue disturbance to the picture book arena. The cover alone promised me things that I was desperate for the story to keep.

And keep them, it did.

THE STUMPS OF FLATTOP HILL is an otherworldly cautionary picture book in which dear little Florence accepts a dare to face perils unknown but ends up Doing Something Else And That Is All I Will Say On The Plot Because Reasons. If you want more, go here or here

What I love about Lamug’s storytelling is that it’s done in fluctuating rhythm with approximate rhyme. The text is one-part concrete poem, one-part summoning spell. I’ve read it silently a bajillion times and out loud thrice. Either way, the cadence gives me the jibblies.

And the illustrations? 

Considering I come from an ancient line of visual artists but cannot sketch worth a bleep, I have unreasonably high expectations for inky line drawings. 

Lamug does not disappoint.

Florence alone in a dark hall

Image courtesy of Ken Lamug’s mad skillz.

And do excuse me while I salivate over the shade-throwing monochromatic crosshatching and tricksy nods to my spirt animal, himself, Edward Gorey.

The words and pictures in THE STUMPS OF FLATTOP HILL blend melodically into a narrative that respects and challenges readers.

But readers beware: this is a macabre book. A picture book, yes. But a chilling one with eerie illustrations and unsettling text. 

Flipping brilliant.

Sample text courtesy of Ken Lamug

Well played, Lamug. Well played.

As such, I deduct one star due to 100% personal bias. THE STUMPS OF FLATTOP HILL is not suitable for my youngest niece (aged 6¾) for whom death and dying are triggers. So, she’ll probably be scarred for life when if I read it to her. And I’m guessing she’s not the only one. 

Regardless, THE STUMPS OF FLATTOP HILL is an instant classic in my book[shelf].  

But you don’t have to take my word for it!

Just kidding.

You will.

Read it.



Levar Burton knows what happens at The Stumps of Flattop Hill.

Find out more about Ken Lamug here:

or see the book here:


The Stumps of Flattop Hill Book Cover The Stumps of Flattop Hill
Kenneth Lamug
Macabre Picture Book
One Peace Books
March 16, 2016

They dared Florence to enter the haunted house on top of the hill. She is frightened, but Florence musters the courage to go inside. As she makes her way up to the top she finds many ghastly things along the way. Will she make it back out or be turned into a stump forever?

The Stumps of Flattop Hill is a macabre tale of a little girl who enters the town’s legendary haunted house in the face of fear. A dark tale for children in the tradition of the Brother’s Grimm, it calls to mind the provocative illustration style of Edward Gorey. Scary and entertaining, this book challenges the idea of what children’s books can be.


  1. seebrianwrite says:

    Definitely looking forward to reading this! It also makes em think of our upcoming Thief of Always books chat.

Pay your respects.