Saturday, July 30, 2011

Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters

Candlewick Press
Jane Yolen; Illustrated by Kelly Murphy

With a beginning like "Monsters creep, monsters crawl ... " you might think this is leading up to be a fairly scary story. Actually, this is a monster lullaby that is on far friendlier terms. Not a bit scary, but cute and funny and full of sweet little monsters. Find out what life is like in their world and you might be surprised to find out a typical day there isn't too much different from a human's. Except for the horns and all those extra eyeballs. 

The creeping and crawling is really monsters erupting from the doors of Cree P. Elementary School after a long day of monster learning. Thrilled to be out for the day, they pour into the local park, swooping down the slide and careening from swings. As darkness falls, the little monsters are greeted by their parents at the doors to their caves, eagerly sliding in and flinging backpacks to the floor.    

Burgers (maybe a bit more slimy than ours) and a green salad are gobbled up, and then into the tub to get scrubbed from horn to toe. After plenty of hopping about on the mattresses and requests for "one last drink of water," they are tucked snug in their beds.  

I like the disparity between the written words and the illustrations. If you were to take the words at face value, this would be a different story altogether. It is the illustrations that add the humor. The monsters vary greatly in appearance - some striped, some furry, a few with wings and most with horns. It is a rainbow of bodies that seem to have only the one shared characteristic - great big, googly eyes.  

I love that their world is so similar to ours, but with tiny details tucked here and there that are purely monster. Worms poke from their salad and eyeballs peer out from the stew pot. All their stuffed animals and backpacks resemble tiny monsters and some of the furniture practically looks alive. It's the best of both worlds!

Review copy provided by Candlewick Press.

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