Sunday, December 1, 2013

Romping Monsters Stomping Monsters - Jane Yolen and Kelly Murphy

Yolen and Murphy are back with another romp for toddlers. After the success of Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters, how could they resist more monster mayhem? This entertaining book about a couple of monsters who set out with their mum on a romping, stomping, escapade in the park will delight its target audience with a sequence of unframed double-page spreads choc-a-block with frolicsome fun. Skylarkery, merriment and boisterous exuberance abound in this book, whose monsters are the sort to have young tots giggling and chuckling rather than worrying about who’s hiding in the cupboard when it’s time for bed. The monsters that populate this story are so fun-loving and waggish the child reader will not mind in the least about their multiple eyes and arms, or their horns or gaping-mouths. Kelly Murphy has imbued her characters with warmth and humour; the slightly muted, colourful illustrations and detail on the page invite the young reader back for a closer look on subsequent returns. (It may take a few returns for the very young child to work out who the main protagonists are – in their orange and yellow – amidst the general monster jollity of each double-page spread.)

The text of Romping Monsters, Stomping Monsters is simple and spare. Rhyming couplets throughout, until the last few pages, Jane Yolen focusses on movement: ‘Monsters stretch. Monsters twirl. Monsters catch. Monsters hurl.’ The emphasis on monster sport and the all-important food scene where the monsters eat giant ice-creams will hold appeal for the target audience. The story ends with the monster siblings having a barney about who gets to go first at the drinking fountain, but all ends well when Mum elicits a ‘sorry’ and the text finishes with, ‘All better now’.
A delightfully whimsical read-aloud story about gambolling monsters and their gleeful shenanigans.

Walker Books, 2013

 (A version of this review appears in Magpies Vol 28, Issue 5, November 2013)

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