CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 20 . . . .May 25, 2007
Monster, Don't Eat Me!
Carl Norac. Illustrated by Carll Cneut. Translated by Elisa Amado.
Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2006.
32 pp., cloth, $18.95.
Review by Gregory Bryan.
The plumpest, shiniest, red raspberries were hanging on a bush at exactly the right height for picking.
Who can resist a raspberry? He asked himself. Not me, that's for sure.
Suddenly, a huge shadow loomed over him.
Alex is a greedy little pig, and he loves to eat. He snacks on potatoes. He snacks on apples. He snacks on raspberries. "Look at you. Always eating between meals!" his mother scolds.
Unfortunately for Alex, he is not alone in having an insatiable appetite. One day, an enormous monster decides that Alex, himself, would make a perfect snack.
In order to dissuade the monster, Alex tries several diversionary tactics, including one that is reminiscent of The Three Billy Goats Gruff. "Monster, don't eat me!" Alex cries out. "Because right near here I saw a baby elephant. He looked really delicious. He's lots fatter than me."
The monster soon tires of the stalling tactics. "I want a snack now!" he grumbles. Alex's plump bottom is about to disappear down the monster's throat when a saviour appears in an unexpected form.
In Monster, Don't Eat Me!, the illustrations prove an ideal companion to the text. Carl Norac and Carll Cneut have collaborated on several picture books. Their joint efforts here will amuse young readers while, at the same time, subtly sending just the right amount of shivers down young spines.
Monster, Don't Eat Me! is an English translation of a book presumably originally penned in French. Norac's work has previously been translated into 18 languages. If Monster, Don't Eat Me! is an example to go by, Norac's utility and the wide appeal of his work has its origins in the fact that he writes of experiences children can relate to—things such as hunger cravings, fear, parental disapproval, kinship, and creativity. For children, such things transcend language barriers.
Carll Cneut's creative use of colour is a strength of the paintings, contrasting bright and dim, dark and light, in a manner that is appealing to the eye and stimulating to the mind. On the one hand, his mixture contributes a sombre, frightening mood to many of the pieces, yet also contributes to the fanciful, playful sense of the whole.
Monster, Don't Eat Me! is a book that young children will enjoy over and over again, each time finding new details in the bold illustrations.
Gregory Bryan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.
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