CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 39. . . .June 10, 2011.
Hazel Hutchins. Illustrated by Sampar.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2011.
24 pp., pbk., $7.99.
Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.
Review by Jacqueline Snider.
If you are ever invited to a monster’s house for dinner, be sure to mind your manners.
Always wash your hands before coming to the table, or the slobber plant will drool on you.
Always set your napkin neatly on your lap, or it could pull too tightly around your neck.
Monster Manners is a fantastical storybook tale of a young, unnamed human boy who is eating dinner at a monster’s house. The omniscient narrator tells readers how human kids are supposed to behave when they eat at a monster’s house and also what the strange and gross consequences will be if they are impolite.
Monster Manners is about a human boy who has been invited to eat dinner at a monster’s house. There are a grownup monster and a monster child at the table, too, but it is unclear whether it was the monster child that invited the boy to eat with them or not. The human boy immediately realizes that there are some pretty strange consequences for not being polite while eating with the Monster family, including being drooled on by a slobber plant, being strangled by bugs, and being snapped at by a turtle as well as the actions of other fantastically macabre things.
In Monster Manners, the text wouldn’t make a lot of sense without the illustrations rendered by Sampar, a well-known Quebec illustrator. Colourful and larger-than-life, the illustrations are well-suited to this kind of strangely descriptive tale. The storyline is a bit too dependent on the illustrations, however, and lacks complexity. The relationships are not explained, and readers may wonder why the human boy is eating at a monster’s house in the first place.
Monster Manners contains only two sentences of dialogue, and they occur when the boy says, “Thank you for a nice meal. May I be excused to go outside?” The rest of the book is telling kids how they should behave—or else.
This book is aimed at young boys because boys tend to appreciate the gross factor more than girls do. That is not to say that girls wouldn’t like the book, but, with the main character being a boy and the gross subject matter, Monster Manners lends itself more towards boys than girls.
Monster Manners teaches children about being polite and fantastical creatures.
Jacqueline Snider is a Montreal freelance writer and editor specializing in trade and children’s and juvenile fiction.
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