Monsters

Monsters
Anna Fienberg, Kim Gamble and Stephen Axelsen
Allen & Unwin

I was knocked out by this beautiful book that celebrates the power of friendship and its role in finding the courage to overcome fears.

Many young children go through a night-time monster-fearing stage (under the bed or in a cupboard); and so it is with young Tildy. The little girl knows there are monsters; they’re brought in by moonlit, hiding themselves behind the curtains and so Tildy hates moonlight.

Her dad and mum assure her there are no such things, telling her to go to sleep; her aunts and uncles can’t see them so she writes to her cousins – all 23 of them – but she receives only one response telling her not to eat spicy food before bed.

So, Tildy gives up her talk of monsters but sleeps with one eye open, growing increasingly nervous as the sun goes down: nothing it seems can get rid of her fear.

Then a new boy Hendrik joins Tildy’s school. He draws monsters during maths time explaining to Tildy how he deals with them.

The two become friends and Hendrik invites Tildy to sleep at his house; the plan is to camp in the garden and despite her worries, she agrees, packs her bag including dad’s Oxford Dictionary to hurl at the first monster she sees, and her mum drives her over.

The children have a great time together but as the shadows engulf the afternoon sun, Tildy’s fears reawaken.

Can her friend help her to make the impending dark feel like a safe place so that they can spend that night together

and watch the moon sail like a ship across the starry sky?

Open to many interpretations, this book is superb in every way. Anna Fienberg’s prose narrative is brilliantly expressed and the illustrations both wonderfully whimsical and detailed. It was Kim Gamble’s final book (she died in 2016) with Anna, and her great friend, illustrator Stephen Axelsen took over after she died, helping to bring the project to fruition and to make this special book a celebration of her work.

An absolutely smashing book to share, especially with youngsters who themselves are challenged by and endeavouring to work with, their own fears.

Definitely one to add to a family collection or the class bookshelves.

Sam, the Most Scaredy-Cat Kid in the Whole World

Sam, the Most Scaredy-Cat Kid in the World
Mo Willems
Walker Books

It’s over a decade since we first met Mo Willems’ Leonardo the Terrible Monster along with Sam, the boy who is terrified of everything other than Leo. Now they’re back with Sam, (just as scared as before), being in the limelight until he encounters these two .

Seemingly Sam has a rival in Kerry, for immediately both humans, terrified of one another, start screaming uncontrollably.
Irked by their behaviour, the monsters decide to leave the children to ‘Figure it out’ and wander off the page together.
Having explored their similarities …

and differences, the humans eventually do just that and they too come to a decision, a wise and slightly mischievous one. And the two monsters are certainly in for something of a surprise when they return.

If you’re familiar with the first Sam and Leonardo story, then you’ll love this as a companion volume; if not it stands alone as a wonderfully funny account of forging a new and unlikely friendship.
Willems’ sombre colour palette, stand-out capitalised fonts and comic-style characters serve as well here as they did before, making this another monstrous winner for the USA’s master of drollery.

I’ve signed the charter  

Eat Your People!

DSCN8060

Eat Your People!
Lou Kuenzler and David Wojtowycz
Orchard Books
Calling all those who are food defensive, have a picky eater of a child or know one, this book is a MUST for you. No! Make that a must for everyone who enjoys a deliciously funny picture book. Mealtimes will never be the same after consuming Lou Kuenzler and David Wojtowycz’s tale of food-refusing monster, Monty. The young chap is assuredly, no carnivore: people-eating repulses him. So much so that his vociferous protests at mealtime anger his parents …

DSCN8061

but delight big sis. Monica, a real omnivore who guzzles everything on her plate as soon as it’s put before her, and is more than happy to take some tasty tidbits from Monty’s.

%0A

I’ll eat ALL my vegetables!” declares Monty. “But I WON’T EAT MY PEOPLE!” No pudding then declares Mum, which is followed with people prodding by Monty, and an angry comment by Dad. Mum starts counting … “One, two …” In goes a person – gulp – rapidly followed by …

%0A

Nobody is amused; no that’s wrong: Monica laughs so much that orange drink exudes from her nostrils. There follows a spot of negotiating between Monty and Mum during which the latter mentions “an extra big MONSTER-SIZE helping” of Monty’s favourite pud. A deal is struck and … in goes an enormous scooping of ‘crunchy, wriggly, jiggly, sour’ people …

DSCN8064

He’s licked the platter clean so to speak: it’s ready and waiting for the promised pudding … TA-DAH!
What a yummy tale; despite being a confirmed veggie I simply lapped this up and then went back and started all over. The ending is a simply scrummy surprise that is sure to send splutters of giggles through any audience you care to share this with. The telling (largely in dialogue) is spot on, the pacing ditto and Wojtowycz’s illustrations are guaranteed to bring on a side spitting response from all humans, child or adult.

WNDB_Button localbookshops_NameImage-2

Boris, Albert and Babies

%0A

Boris Babysits!
Sam Lloyd
Templar Publishing
Boris (Calm Down, Boris!) is back and he’s been given the job of babysitting Monster Baby while Mummy Monster goes to the shops. Now you’ll not be surprised to learn that boisterous Boris doesn’t have much clue about minding a baby. Sweet eating and telly watching certainly won’t keep the babe entertained all day so Boris decides the garden is the place. But, he leaves her to her own devices and goes off to bounce on his trampoline and of course, Baby wants a turn too – Boris lets her bounce way too much though. He then proceeds to dump her in the pongy dog basket while he rustles up a meal for himself, but Monster baby gets nothing.
There inevitably follows a little accident but is Boris able to deal with it?

%0A

Of course not – that, like all the other Baby Monster minding is left for us to assist with and even then big bro. is so exhausted by all his ‘hard work’ that, having plonked the babe down on the sofa, he falls fast asleep beside her. Quick – we’d better finish the job by putting the little furry infant in her cot before Mummy Monster comes home.

%0A

‘Rat-a-tat-tat’ – quick before we open the door. …
Complete with furry monster baby on a ribbon to assist Boris’s helpers and velcro spots on every spread to keep the infant in place, this sturdy book ensures maximum young child involvement with the amusing tale.
Slightly older children could make their own furry monster babes and create their own stories around them.

%0A

Albert and Little Henry
Jez Alborough
Walker Books
There are gentle echoes of the Not Now Bernard about this Jez Alborough offering. It stars young Albert who has a particular prowess for storytelling and loves entertaining his parents with his flights of fancy.
One day though, there’s a new arrival in the family. “I can’t listen to a story now, … Little Henry needs his bath.” and “Not now, Albie, I’m trying to get Little Henry off to sleep,” is what he hears from his weary Dad and Mum, along with their frequent “Why don’t you tell us a story later?
Albert goes off to his room to wait for ‘later,’ a peculiar feeling comes over him …
Nobody notices his sudden lack of stature; and at Little Henry’s celebration party it’s the same story.
Sad and angry, Albert heads for his bedroom leaving others very firmly on the other side of the door. But then, Mum leaves a special present for him; a present bearing three vital words; and after that things start to change – for the better this time. Albert is restored to his former size and those creative juices of his start flowing again …
Albert’s story clearly shows how the arrival of a new sibling can make a child feel small and insecure. His woeful expressions and temper tantrum are tellingly visualized in Alborough’s adorable scenes of ‘new arrival’ jealousy. Young Albert is certain to find a place in the hearts of any family facing the potential emotional upheavals of a new baby.

localbookshops_NameImage-2

WNDB_Button

Lucinda Belinda Melinda McCool

DSCN7380

Lucinda Belinda Melinda McCool
Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross
Andersen Press
Lucinda Belinda Melinda McCool is assuredly a head-turner but not a particularly pleasant character – far from it in fact. She feels duty bound to issue fault- correcting instructions to those she calls her friends, thus …

%0A

and even resorts on occasion to actual ‘enhancement’ procedures …

%0A

It isn’t only fellow pupils who come in for her improvement instructions though: ‘No one was safe from Lucinda’s advice./ “Grandpa!” she said. “Your moustache isn’t nice./ Sit down and don’t fidget, I’ll give it a trim./ Grandma, you’re next when I’ve finished with him.” Her teacher too gets the treatment …

%0A

All is perfectly peachy for Miss LBMMcC until she happens upon a Monster in the woods one day – a hideous beast if ever there was one. Do you think the young miss stood terrified before this creature?

DSCN7385

No way! Out come the beautifying instruments (she went nowhere without those of course)

%0A

and very soon the monster’s hair has been washed, trimmed and blown dry and he’s had a thorough make over to boot. Let the beautiful friendship now commence … errrm, not quite. Seems that makeover was only skin deep …
Willis and Ross have together concocted a cracking cautionary tale of the truly hilarious kind. Jeanne Willis’ rhyming narrative is a gift to the reader aloud (though I suggest you have a dress rehearsal first) and I guarantee you’ll have your audience in fits, not only over the words: every single one of Ross’s illustrations is an absolute beaut.
FAB-U-LOUS!

Use your local bookshop   localbookshops_NameImage-2

WNDB_Button

Nibbles The Book Monster

DSCN6638 (623x800)

Nibbles The Book Monster
Emma Yarlett
Little Tiger Press
Emma Yarlett creates metafictive magic and mayhem with her latest character – a certain munching, crunching book monster, aka Nibbles, no less. He inhabits – or is supposed to inhabit – the book of the title but because of his particular penchant for all things literary …

DSCN6641 (800x600)

he’s chomped his way out and is already starting to invade …

 

DSCN6865 (800x600)

You can imagine the reaction of that bear trio when they arrive back from their walk to discover …

DSCN6642 (800x600)

But the little blighter has hastily removed himself from the scene and is visiting another cottage having first procured a cloak of a telltale hue.

DSCN6643 (800x600)

Seems he’s managed to make rather a hit with one of the characters there and totally transformed another. But oh dearie me, somebody in that book isn’t at all impressed with our show-stealing invader so he’s done another runner – in a vertical direction this time… and there made his mark in rather an indelicate spot (or should that be ‘bot’?) before hot footing it, or actually being escorted (thanks to that golden goose) right back where he started …

DSCN6644 (800x600)

Err …

DSCN6868 (800x600)

Well you can’t keep a good nibbler down – or in, can you? A cracking book through and through … and through… and …
Emma Yarlett’s best yet methinks.

DSCN6864 (800x600)

Some book monsters imagined by listeners before we shared the story.

 

localbookshops_NameImage-2

 

 

Artists At Work and Play

DSCN6837 (800x600)

Alphonse, That is Not OK to Do!
Daisy Hurst
Walker Books
Natalie and Alphonse are sibling monsters, Natalie being the elder. Big sis. is generally very tolerant and accommodating and the two have a lot in common …

DSCN6838 (800x600)

Sometimes though Alphonse would cross the line, such as when he adds his own marks to his sister’s creations or worse …

DSCN6839 (800x600)

Then one day, he does something much, much worse: he starts consuming Natalie’s very favourite book (perhaps it was the uninspiring lunch that prompted it) and you can imagine her response is far from favourable, resulting in the title exposition, an artistic outpouring…

DSCN6840 (800x600)

and a retreat to the bathroom.
Eager to make amends Alphonse suggests a spot of nifty repair work, which is ignored by Natalie and so replaced by more drastic action that sounds like …

DSCN6841 (800x600)

and looks like ..

 

DSCN6842 (800x600)

An Alphonse style explanation follows along with apologies for his book eating and the revealing of some finishing touches that he’s added to big sis’s picture.
Daisy Hirst’s narrative voice is spot on, her monsters are adorable and I love the chucklesome humour in her illustrations, which are a perfect complement to that deliciously droll text of hers. Alphonse and Natalie could run and run …

DSCN6706 (800x600)

Lion & Tiger & Bear
Ethan Long
Abrams Books for Young Readers
We meet the trio of friends one sunny morning in Green Hills Hollow. There’s Lion doing a spot of painting in his ‘Alone Spot’ when he’s suddenly tagged by Bear, who is eager for a game. Lion however is having none of it and so off goes Bear to try his luck with Tiger. No prizes for guessing who she in turn tags; but still Lion is determined to continue working on his picture and to that end he’s willing to go to a great deal of trouble to ward off would-be taggers.

DSCN6707 (800x600)

Meanwhile the game has become anything but exciting and so the taggers decide to hot up the action somewhat. But even this doesn’t deter our artist and so he moves again … and again until finally he finds the perfect hiding place.

 

DSCN6708 (800x600)

Not quite though. Things finally come to a head, followed by a deal being struck which leaves Lion free to complete his masterpiece and an impressive one it is too –

DSCN6709 (800x600)

though that’s not quite the end of the story …
This is I think, the start of a series featuring the three pals and as such it does the job well; we get an impression of the different personalities of the characters as well as being shown the importance of negotiation and of having some ‘me’ time.
Long’s digital cartoon style illustrations tell most of the story with the action being helped along by speech bubbles and a minimal narrative that holds the whole thing together, making it a good bet for early readers as well as for sharing with young listeners.

Use your local bookshop      localbookshops_NameImage-2