________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 4. . . .September 25, 2009


Robyn's Monster Play. (First Novels).

Hazel Hutchins. Illustrated by Yvonne Cathcart.
Halifax, NS: Formac, 2008.
64 pp., pbk. & hc., $5.95 (pbk.), $14.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-88780-748-0 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-0-88780-750-3 (hc.).

Subject Heading:
Children's play -Juvenile fiction.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Tristin Burrows.

*** /4


Robyn's Monster Play is a beginning chapter book that features brave Robyn, a young girl who decides to create her own play; one that she will write, direct, produce, and in which she will star! Robyn encounters many challenges along the way. Will she be able to pull it together by curtain call?

Sometimes, when you come up with a great title, it's hard to write a story underneath it. After I wrote down "The Monster that Ate the World" the rest of my page stayed blank. When I got home after school, I tried again. Still blank.

internal art      In Robyn's Monster Play, Robyn is upset to learn that her teacher, Miss Henson, has chosen a play called "The Raft" for the class to perform. What is more upsetting still is that the only acting parts available are for boys. While Miss Henson's intentions are for the class to participate in all elements of theatre production, such as costumes, props and lighting, Robyn is very disappointed by Miss Henson’s choice. Then a sudden brainwave hits Robyn: "Isn't writing important when it comes to creating plays?" Robyn requests that she be allowed to write her own play. Miss Henson considers this request and soon allows the class to make a choice between "The Raft" and Robyn's new play, "The Monster that Ate the World." Robyn is distraught to see that she has only one volunteer; Mika (a shy girl with a quiet voice). While the excitement of "The Raft” floats around them, Mika and Robyn must overcome many difficult hurdles in order to make "The Monster that Ate the World" a success.

     Robyn's Monster Play introduces readers to a loveable, honest character. Robyn isn't afraid to make mistakes (and she does!) or to march to the beat of her own drum. She is creative, stubborn and gutsy, and she endears audiences with the lessons she learns along the way.

     This book is great for students beginning to read chapter books. Chapters are short, titled and include black and white illustrations. Robyn's Monster Play is also great for young readers because it depicts a familiar scene: the challenges found in an everyday classroom; feeling left out; disagreeing with a teacher; having difficulty with an assignment and doubting your own choices. The book also uses the descriptive language of young students: "Monday afternoon Miss Henson slid way down on my ten-point 'How good is your teacher?' scale. She went from an 8 to a 2 in just one move." Students will easily relate to the atmosphere described in Robyn's classroom.

     This book would also be of interest for anyone who is curious about theatre or the dynamics of creating a play; such as set design, costume, sound or props. This book would be a great accompaniment for a classroom that was planning its own theatrical endeavour.

     Overall, Robyn's Monster Play would be of interest to many young readers. Robyn's winning personality and the challenges and tribulations of being in theatre make this book engaging.

Highly Recommended.

Tristin Burrows, an elementary school teacher with a passion for literature, lives in Winnipeg, MB, with her dog, Bruin.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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