The Ride-by-Nights / Tickle Monster

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The Ride-by-Nights
Walter de la Mare and Carolina Rabei
Faber & Faber Children’s Books
‘Up on their brooms the Witches stream,/ Crooked and black in the crescent’s gleam:/ One foot high, and one foot low, / Bearded, cloaked and cowled, they go.’

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Thus begins this poem I remember learning by heart as a child and later it became an oft’ requested favourite from my copy of the author’s collection, Peacock Pie with some of the first infant classes I taught many years ago.
Now Carolina Rabei has worked her own illustrative magic on it, re-interpreting the verses and it’s great to have this picture book version of the timeless poem to share with new audiences of listeners and readers especially around Hallowe’en.
‘With a whoop and a flutter/ they swing and sway, / And surge pell-mell/ down the Milky Way.’ 

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How splendidly Rabei weaves a modern tale of a family ‘s encounter with those ‘Ride-by-Nights’ as they head out on their trick or treat evening of playfulness and are drawn into some tricks, thrills and near spills …

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courtesy of those ancient enchantresses.
The limited colour palette is well chosen for creating maximum atmosphere and I particularly like the way some spreads cleverly draws the reader’s eyes towards the starry skies while at the same time allowing them to watch the action unfolding below.

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From the just slightly sparkling cover to the star map endpapers,

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thrills are to be found at every turn of the page and I hope this spellbinding book will serve to send listeners to seek out other poems by Walter de la Mare, starting perhaps with the illustrator’s pictorial rendering of Snow.

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Tickle Monster
Édouard Manceau
Abrams Appleseed
Take a simple idea – tickle the monster part by part …

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thus deconstructing him and use his parts to create a more friendly scene – and you’ve got a real winner.

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Certainly that is so, if you are the artist who used bold bright, simple shapes to design the character in this amusing story.
I shared it with a group of four to six year olds who absolutely loved the whole idea; three immediately re-read it themselves, two taking on reading the text and one doing the tickling. They then worked together to create their own version of the Tickle Monster from recycled card and colored paper They too played around, re-arranging the disparate parts to create a new picture (not saved as they decided the monster should come knocking again). Here he is in monster form.

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With its patterned, repetitive text this book is perfect for beginning readers as well as for sharing with a group or class.
I’ve often read Ed Emberley’s somewhat similar Go Away Big Green Monster with young children and I can see myself doing the same with this one.

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