Tag Archives: monsters

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.

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Eat Your People!


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 …


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.


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 …


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 …


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.

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Boris, Albert and Babies


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?


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.


‘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.


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.



Lucinda Belinda Melinda McCool


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 …


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


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 …


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?


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


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.

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Nibbles The Book Monster

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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 …

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


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

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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.

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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 …

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Err …

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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.

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





Artists At Work and Play

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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 …

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

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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…

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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 …

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and looks like ..


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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 …

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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.

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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.


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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 –

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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.

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The Emperor of Absurdia & Wendel

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The Emperor of Absurdia
Chris Riddell
Macmillan Children’s Books
This is a smaller format edition of a wonderful dream of a story from the pen of Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell. It’s told with a delicious humour and through his fantastical and amazingly detailed illustrations. The whole thing revolves around an endearing young character who has something of a wardrobe crisis and that’s despite facilitations from the Wardrobe Monster: the Emperor’s scarf has gone missing.
A hunt ensues, and the scarf retrieved – just in time for breakfast. Thereafter another hunt happens; but not before supper is served and the seeker is suitably replete –

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or almost – for his lunch has hatched and taken flight.
This chase is done courtesy of the Emperor’s wonderful vehicle, his tricycle chair …

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and culminates in the finding of not one but two dragons. And the mama dragon is anything but pleased to see him, chasing him back into the hugging arms of none other than the Wardrobe Monster.

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Time to sleep …
Crammed with wonderfully whimsical imagery and sometimes, minute details, every scene, large or small, is simply superb. The delicacy of Riddell’s drawing is out of this world: do take time to compare the landscapes of the front and end papers …

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Such wonderfully detailed endpapers – feast your eyes…

Quite early on in the story, the Emperor himself declares, “This is exciting!” What child (or adult) could fail to agree? For the latter, the whole thing is a joy to read aloud – wonderful word combinations abound – ‘crumply coat, jingle-jangle socks’, ‘a loud, pointy-sounding squawk’; and smatters of repetition are judiciously dropped in to the text.
If this one doesn’t set the imagination of youngsters flying, nothing will. Me, I’m off to revel in the realm of Absurdia for a while. It rather reminds me of an adventure from The Edge, one of my all time favourite fantasy worlds.

In the same format and also from the current children’s laureate is another wonderfully quirky creation:

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Wendel and the Robots
Herein inventor, Wendel’s latest robotic creation has gone out of control and doesn’t know when to stop: even the inventor mouse himself ends up being tossed down the rubbish chute and onto the scrapheap. The question is can Wendel and his team seize back control of his territory from the dreaded tidying fanatic, Wendelbot?

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Enormous fun; but I certainly wouldn’t take a leaf out of Wendel’s ‘never threw anything on the scrapheap’ book. (although there’s one person in my household who definitely has!)
Both of these are great for those slightly older readers who may have missed out on the publication of these delicious books in their original, larger picture book format.

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Monster Encounters

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The Bath Monster
Colin Boyd and Tony Ross
Andersen Press
Have a bath or the Bath Monster will come and get you –a monster that lurks beneath the bath slurping up the mucky water – his second favourite food – through a special bendy straw: surely that’s nonsense isn’t it? It’s certainly what Jackson’s mother tells him to get him into the tub every night.
Until one day Jackson decides he’s outgrown his belief in said Monster and he’s covered from top to toe in thick mud. “Go and have a bath now or the Bath Monster will come and get you” warns his mother. But, Jackson is having none of it.

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So what will that Bath Monster have to satisfy his hunger instead? His number one favourite food, of course and seemingly Jackson is about to find out what that is …
Tony Ross’s Bath Monster is a magnificently mucky being and as readers ultimately discover, a creature after Jackson’s own heart. Every one of the illustrations for Colin Boyd’s unlikely tale brims over with delicious humour and I suspect adult readers aloud are going to get as much enjoyment from this one as the young children they share it with. The sight of that small (temporarily clean) boy being dangled unceremoniously above the bath on the first page sets the tone for the whole story

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and the picture of Jackson sitting in the tub in his protective gear is superb.

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Assuredly another Tony Ross triumph and a promising debut story for Colin Boyd.
Before we read the story I asked my audience to imagine a bath monster of their own; here are some of their ideas:

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There’s a Monster in my Fridge
Caryl Hart and Deborah Allwright
Simon & Schuster
‘What’s that hiding behind the door? It’s feet have squelched across the floor …’
so begins this split-page mock-scary visit to a monster-filled house on a hill.
Those who dare defy the KEEP OUT sign will encounter among others, the jelly-eating monster of the title, a glittery witch, a startled vampire …

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twin skeletons in the bathtub and an itchy werewolf …

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With such visual jokes as dancing toothpaste tubes, hairbrushes …

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and alarm clocks, and a surprise finale, this one is definitely a whole lot more fun than fright but worth a read around Hallowe’en nonetheless.
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Love Monster & the Scary Something
Rachel Bright
Harper Collins Children’s Books
Unable to sleep one dark shadowy night, Little Monster lets his imagination run riot when he hears a rustling sound in the garden,

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a sound that seems to belong to something that’s found its way inside his very own house and is pitter-pat …. pittery patting around on its terrible hairy feet with terrible twisterly toenails and scuffling and bumping its way up the stairs.

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And it surely has enormous teeth for crunching …
Suddenly Love Monster decides there’s only one thing to do: be brave and confront the hungry creature, so it’s on with the torch and … What could that be looming in the doorway?

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Turns out it’s just another insomniac seeking someone to share the lonely darkness with – and a very tiny one too.
A lovely funny story about facing your worst fears, especially those relating to the dark with just the right degree of scariness for a bedtime read and great fun for Halloween sharing.

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Exciting  Children’s Books Illustration Autumn Exhibition at Waterstones, Piccadilly 23rd-29th October