Have you ever noticed that when you read a book that has `whimsical' in the description, the story is often disturbing? As I kid, I found Louis Carrol's Alice stories morbidly fascinating. The landscape shifts and changes like those in a dream. People morph into animals and back without warning. The story is mind-bending as a Dali painting, and I read it over and over trying to figure out what was going on! I like the Alice books now. I get the puns, and the unfamiliar landscape has become comfortable with associated memories. But when I see advertisements for Burton's interpretation, I'm not surprised that they look a bit chilling. It is, after all, a disturbing story.
There are several whimsical books that I just adore. Jame Thurber's `The 13 Clocks' is high on the list. The pictures are almost all night scenes, the epilogue, in which we discover the fate of the evil duke, is chilling. But the story has such lovely language. My favorite line is about the Golux, an odd little man with "a describable beard and and indescribable hat." The line is: "The Golux did not seem wonderful to him now, and even his indescribable hat was suddenly describable." Thurber frolics with words. The result has the feel of a fairy-tale -not what people think of when one says fairy-tale, but an actual fairy-tail, where danger is close, and every night is ridden with storms.
What makes a story whimsical seems to be a certain mood, a willingness to play with language. The worlds are as fluid as the words, and there's a habit of turning expressions into reality, or just looking at things sideways, that shifts perception in the reader. It's unsettling, but it's also fascinating. And that makes whimsical books worth reading.