Time for a few Christmas books! I have three children's Christmas/winter books to review and one regular children's title, so this will be the first of four reviews posted today, all of which were sent to me by Sterling Books for review.
Our monster is causing trouble.
Request backup on the double!
The playroom has turned to rubble,
which we have to clear.
We Wish for a Monster Christmas by Sue Fliess, illustrated by Claudia Ranucci, is the story of two children who wish for a monster for Christmas and get what they asked for but find that monsters are troublesome. The book has a rhyming pattern that matches that of the song "We Wish You a Merry Christmas". You'll need to read through it before reading it to children to familiarize yourself with the rhythm. I personally found it a little unpredictable when the rhymes will match the pattern of regular verses and when they end up matching that of the bridge (the part that goes "Good tidings to you, wherever you are," in the song), although I'm sure that's not a problem once you've familiarized yourself with the book. I read the book aloud to my cats, figured out the trick pretty quickly, and finished off singing the final pages.
As to the story, it's super cute. The two unnamed children in the book imagine how fun it will be to play with a monster. But, their parents tell them you can't rent or buy a monster and the answer to their request is "no". It doesn't occur to them that Santa may be willing. So, the children end up receiving their monster from Santa and he doesn't turn out to be their idealized playmate at all. Instead, he trashes the house and has to be sent outdoors, where he makes a very nice guard and is more tolerable for play. The book ends with the children planning what they'll ask to receive for Christmas, next year: five hundred monkeys!
Recommended - While I was a little put off by the rhythm (sometimes, I really think it's best just to write a children's book in prose rather than trying something fancy), I like the story and I love the illustrations. They're vibrant with plenty of action, so it's a particularly good picture book for little ones who can't yet read and enjoy looking pictures; the story is clear from the illustrations alone. My favorite spread is the final one, in which the illustrator imagines what it will be like getting monkeys for Christmas in the coming year. It's got so much going on it'll keep little eyes busy searching out the details.
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