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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Monster, Don't Eat Me!
by Carl Norac
Age Range: Under_5
Alex was a ‘greedy little pig’ who loved to eat between meals. When Alex’s mother catches him digging up potatoes to eat, she tells him off and sends him to have a bath in the river. On his way there, Alex gets caught by a monster who likes to eat as much as he does. How will Alex avoid becoming a snack?
Carl Norac has written a fantastically funny, very original tale which has been beautifully illustrated by Carll Cneut. Alex and the Monster are simple characters but it is easy to imagine the David and Goliath situation they enact because they both come alive in Cneut’s whimsical drawings. Cneut creates a real spectacle, with full-page drawings of delicious fruit for Alex to eat and some wonderful depictions of Alex’s fantasy animals. Humour is also the order of the day here, with Alex’s diversions for the monster becoming more and more fantastic and improbable and the surprise twist at the ending really turning the tables and bound to get laughs. Norac has created a cheeky but loveable hero that children will really care about, a mum that every child will think is just like theirs and a villain who is just scary enough.
One of the best qualities of this book is that the monster is ‘just scary enough’. The story is not really frightening, but it is written to excite a young audience, get them interested in the characters and please them rather than scare them. Norac does this by constantly making us laugh and gently reducing the monster. Although he seems huge and hungry when he first appears, Alex makes us laugh with his tactics to evade being eaten and outwit the beast, taking the monster down a peg or two in our estimation. The monster doesn’t look too scary either. Although Cneut has designed a sort of dinosaur figure, the Godzilla wannabe’s Kate Greenaway outfit removes any menace (and all his street cred).
Funny, quirky, lovely to look at and with a sweet, simple story this book is really good fun in every way. Children will laugh at the surprise at the end and enjoy the happy ending. Parents will probably like the charming simplicity and timelessness of the story (including the pictures, which involve knickerbockers) and enjoy the fact that the book might persuade sweet-toothed or particularly peckish offspring that there really is a reason mum and dad don’t like you to snack between meals.
Abby Philips (2012)