I can't believe I didn't get around to reviewing these books sooner. All four were sent to me by Sterling Children's Books. When they arrived, I immediately sat down and started reading them. I loved a couple of them so much that I read parts to my husband aloud and I reread The Color Monster numerous times because it's a pop-up and it's just so darned fun I couldn't help myself. Here they are the day they arrived, piled up on my legs as I prepared to dig in:
Mind Your Monsters by by Catherine Bailey, Illustrated by Oriol Vidal, begins with these words:
Wally enjoyed a quiet, normal life . . . until one day monsters invaded his small town and made a mess of everything.
It goes on to describe the chaos as monsters began to tear up Wally's town -- and not just generic monsters but zombies, vampires, werewolves, a giant octopus, a blob, and an ogre, among other creatures. Nothing works, including numerous traps so the townspeople vote to leave . . . and an ogre blocks their way. Then:
Wally was fed up. "Will you PLEASE stop breaking all our stuff?" Wally shouted.
"Okay," burbled the octopus.
And, that's all it takes to get the monsters to behave themselves and set things right.
But eventually, it was time for the monsters to leave. They were homesick for their caves, planets, lairs, and holes. Monsters are monsters, after all.
Wally asks them to return for future visits but they refuse to answer until he says the magic word.
Recommended - A crazy-cute way to teach children manners with brightly-colored, fun illustrations and a clear theme. For ages 4-8.
Dining with Monsters, written and illustrated by Agnese Buruzzi surprised me because it opens upward so that the book is held vertically rather than horizontally. Awkward. But, it's also ridiculously fun and certainly a unique way to learn counting.
The Horrible Monster, Black-as-Coal introduces you to his monster friends at the opening of the book and then he begins the counting exercise with a flap that opens up his mouth to show him eating a spider:
The Horrible Monster, Black-as-Coal . . .
Gobbled up one spider whole.
Eww. Well, I guess monsters don't have the best diets, haha. Next:
The Many-Eyed, Icy Scriggle-Scroggs . . .
Gobbled up 2 leaping frogs.
And, so forth. To be honest, I was really put off by the vertical opening design, at first, but I have to admit that the uniqueness won me over. It's hard to imagine a child who wouldn't love opening up a monster's mouth to see what's inside.
Recommended - Dining with Monsters is a hoot. The awkward design is negated by the fun of peeking inside the flap of each monster's mouth to see what he's eaten and learning to count in the process. For ages 3-5.
Color Monster: A Pop-Up Book of Feelings by Anna Llenas is one of the most wonderful pop-up books I've ever seen and I'm not sure quite why it is that I love it so much. I just want to step inside the book and hang out. I kept it by the bed and read it now and then, just for the joy of it, for quite some time You can look up almost the entire interior of the book by googling the title but I will tell you my favorite pop-up is the color monster in a hammock because it looks so deliciously soothing.
The Color Monster is subtitled "A Pop-Up Book of Feelings" because it's about emotion. The monster on the cover of the book is multi-colored to reflect the fact that his emotions are all "jumbled up". Each color represents a particular feeling: yellow is happiness, blue represents sadness (hit this link to see blue - blue is totally cool), red is anger, black is fear, green is calm (hence, the hammock). There are empty bottles at the beginning of the book and the next to the last page shows the emotions separated, each into its own bottle. There's one more feeling at the end, pink with hearts: love, of course, although it doesn't say so.
Highly recommended - You don't have to have a child who needs to understand his or her emotions better to enjoy this book -- although, I think it would be excellent for its true purpose -- you can be a messed-up grown-up who just wants to play with pop-ups. Yeah. Don't be surprised if this one never makes it into the hands of a grandchild. Ages 3-7. Allegedly.
Monster Trouble by Lane Fredrickson, illustrated by Michael Robertson begins:
Winifred Schnitzel was never afraid.
Not of monsters or ghouls or the noises they made.
She loved scary movies and werewolves and thunder
and peg-legged pirates who bury their plunder.
Still Winifred's bedtime was hardly spook-free.
The neighborhood monsters would not let her be.
Each night they'd show up and attempt to be scary.
Some would growl; some would belch. Some were slimy, some hairy.
Poor Winifred. She's not afraid of monsters at all but they're a bit pesky and end up keeping her up all night. Tired of having her sleep interrupted, she checks out a book of ideas called "Monsters Beware!" and creates a trap. When that fails, she tries driving them off with stinky cheese and then building her own spook traps. It's not till she's thoroughly exhausted that she happens across a solution when she sleepily kisses a monster and it hastily backs away. Monsters hate being kissed! From then on, Winifred is set. If a monster bothers her, all she has to do is give it a kiss.
Highly recommended - Monster Trouble has a nice rhythm and cheerful illustrations; it's one of my favorites of this batch of monster books. I like a good rhyming book (always fun to read aloud) and the monsters are cute enough not to slip into frightening territory. Ages 4-8. Also great for reading to cats.
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