Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Small Readers: Meet Monster by Ellen Blance and Ann Cook, illustrated by Quentin Blake

As you can see, I am beginning a new feature! Small Readers will be reviews of easy readers and they will alternate with Read, Read, Read, said the Baby (board books) on Wednesday. So, I will be back to three reviews a week. As I get started, I'm going to bring back some of my older easy reader reviews for another look. Enjoy!

[Originally published in 2011. No edits have been made.]

Sometimes when we meet an old book friend, we're disappointed. The book we remembered was so much more magical, so much better-written. We look back at it with an adult's eyes just doesn't measure up.

Happily, that is not the case with the reprinting of Ellen Blance and Ann Cook's beloved Monster stories. Monster is every bit as purple and his adventures are every bit as delightfully logical, with the logic of a child's mind, just as I remember.

All six easy readers are collecting in one tidy volume with each book as a chapter. In the first book, we meet Monster. He's tall and purple and has a skinny head and he looks at everything in the city. Finally, he packs his things and comes to stay. So, naturally, in the second story he must find a house that is just right for him - not too small, not too messy, not too big. Now that he has moved in, it's time for him him to clean house! Everything looks fine and he's ready for book five; finding a friend. After lots of looking, he finds a small boy who is happy to be his friend and comes to live with him. In the final chapter, he and his new friend find a lady monster and a magic umbrella.

Quentin Blake's classic illustrations are the perfect background to the stories of Monster. They have a child's logic; if you find a friend, of course he comes to live with you. If you are a monster, you need a big tall house. You don't just clean things, you clean them for a reason - so the bedroom gets cleaned so you don't have to clean it while people are sleeping. The bathtub gets cleaned so when you pour the water in it's not dirty.

The abrupt changes in plot - one minute Monster is delightedly meeting a lady monster, the next minute they are playing soccer, and then suddenly it's raining and they have a giant magic umbrella - are all a perfect blend of a child's narrational train and the gentle hand of the authors creating a readable and simply expressed story.

Verdict: I am so happy they brought these stories back into print - they are classic easy readers and would make a great choice for a beginning reader book club or springboards for writing your own Monster stories!

ISBN: 978-07614-5648-3; Published April 2011 by Marshall Cavendish; Purchased for the library


Teacher said...

This made me smile. I remember Monster! I have a place in my heart for these old-school readers. I will have to hunt this one down. Thanks for sharing.

Jennifer said...

These stories were originally written by kids - Ellen Blance just sort of edited them - so you could totally write your own Monster stories!