Tag Archives: Monster

I Want to be in a Scary Story

I Want to be in a Scary Story
Sean Taylor and Jean Jullien
Walker Books

From the dream team that brought us Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise, here’s a story told entirely in dialogue: black type for the external narrator and purple – aptly – for chief protagonist, Little Monster.
Eager to be in a story, the totally endearing little enthusiast turns down the suggestion that a funny story might be preferable, assuring the narrator that a scary story it must be.
Talk about dropping you in it, but that’s exactly what the narrator does by placing the monster right outside a haunted house.

‘Spooky’, seems preferable, and that’s no walk in the park either, as the house might be inhabited by a scary witch, or a ghastly ghost just waiting to jump out; at least the narrator forewarns our Little Monster though. But there seems to have been something of a misunderstanding.
Little Monster wants to do the scaring, not be scared silly. Here goes …

But then comes another thought: what lies behind that door? The witch?
Much too scary; so what about ‘just a teeny weeny monkey and his friend’? Surely scaring them should prove suitably funny …

Sean Taylor knows just how much scariness little monsters, purple or otherwise, can take, and his clever scaling back of the terror as the tale proceeds, is spot on for keeping young listeners on the edge of their seats. Equally Jean Jullien’s creepy scenes have a sufficient degree of zaniness to grip but not unduly alarm; and that final twist really hits the spot.
Can I be in a story again tomorrow?’ asks Little Monster on the final page: I suspect young audiences, thrilled rather than chilled, will want it to be more immediate than that.

Diverting Dog Tales

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Seb and Hamish
Jude and Niki Daly
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Like this reviewer, (who was mauled by an Alsatian aged five) young Seb suffers from cynophobia. Consequently, when he accompanies his mother on a visit to Mrs Kenny and hears ‘Woof-woof! Woof-woof’ coming from inside when they ring the doorbell his response is “Home.” (think mine would have been too.)

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Seb’s unease worsens when he comes face to face with the high-spirited Hamish but once he’s safely shut away, Seb begins to entertain himself.

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But when Seb stops his toy train for a tea break (courtesy of Mrs Kenny’s freshly baked cookies) he loses the nose button from a cookie and it rolls under a door: The very door behind which is Hamish. The two come finger to tongue

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and then, eye-to-eye, then slowly and tentatively, a new friendship is formed.

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(Did time speed up here, one wonders? Can a deep-seated fear be overcome so easily and rapidly?)
Nevertheless a heartwarming story all in all and it’s good to see that Mrs K. was so understanding and accommodating about Seb’s fear of her pet; not all dog-owners are.
Very engaging watercolour illustrations; I particularly love the littering of canine

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(or rather dachshund) ephemera in some scenes.

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Monster
Michael Rosen and Neal Layton
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
A witty, offbeat tale of starting school told from the viewpoint of a book-writing dog, whose human, Rover is going to school for the first time. Rex, (who bears a striking resemblance to the author), Cindy – Rover’s mum and Howler (so named on account of her continual Cindy-distracting howls), make up the rest of the cast. Oh and the Monster of the title from whom the narrator seeks to save his pet human. Seemingly the entire family is in a bit of a state judging from the chaotic scenes on the all-important morning

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and the frantic departure, which leaves our canine narrator alone in the house, temporarily at least. But then he makes a break for it, following his sniffer, hot on the trail of Rover

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all the way to ‘a place where hundreds of other small humans are kept. ‘ The determined creature finds a way into the ‘cage’ (full of monsters?) where he proceeds to create chaos and confusion before ascertaining that all is well with Rover; and having discovered she’s actually enjoying herself, goes back home. And there he waits until her return, just like always.
Comical telling and visuals are part and parcel of the package, the third to feature this family and its artistic creators.

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