Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Russell Hoban ~ Quentin Blake ~ Victor Gollancz, 1989

Speaking of Steig and the 1980s, this book has recently moved into the favorite's fold. The monster drawings and descriptions remind me of Steig's Rotten Island, and having a child who loves to draw one particular thing over and over, I can appreciate our main character's, um... interest.

John liked to draw monsters.

He drew monsters that looked like puddings with teeth, he drew monsters that had hundreds of eyes and odd numbers of ears, he drew scaly monsters, furry monsters, vegetable and mineral monsters, and unheard-of monsters that were so monstrous they had to be invisible so they wouldn't scare themselves to death.

John's parents don't really understand his urge to illustrate all things icky, but it's when he begins to draw a monster so huge and, well, monstrous that it takes days and reams and reams of brown wrapping paper, they turn to his art teacher for answers."I shouldn't worry about it if I were you," said Mr. Splodge.
"Boys are naturally a little monstrous."

When that doesn't squelch their worry, a shrink is next in line, but when the good doctor asks to see John complete the monster, well, let's just say his folks might need a second opinion.

So many times I'll pick up a book that looks awesome, but then on the first read, it doesn't live up to the cover. This, however, is a book that delivers on all levels. Blake's drawings, as usual, are hysterical and right on... and Hoban (this is my new fave of his, sorry Francis!) shines with a story that is a sweet, ode to the imagination of childhood, while standing on the rated-G brink of being a horror story. Love it!

Perfect, perfect, perfect.

Also by:
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
Mouse Trouble
Dirty Beasts
Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas
Mole's Family Christmas


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Bob Logan said...

Excellent post, thank you!!!
I didn't know about this book.


Heather said...

How great is Quentin Blake?! I was first introduced to him when I started reading Dahl. His slightly wonky drawings were a perfect marriage to Dahl's sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

I like your site very much. It's nice you are making quality authors available to those who read mainly online or who don't have access to them. I noticed you didn't have Barbara Cooney who along with Penelope Praddow has several very high quality Greek myths that are out of print, the likes of which would not be published in today's rather impoverished world of children's books. Also, Dick Roughsey and Piercy Trezise's books of Australian aborignal myths are rarely seen and out of print. Many would also appreciate Carl Sandburg and Harriet Pincus' "The wedding procession of the rag doll and the broom Handle and who was in it" as well as "Tell me a Mitzi". Trina Schart Hyman's books are also worth

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