CM . . . .
Volume V Number 19 . . . . May 21, 1999
Jessica knew there was a monster in the house. Her mom and dad didn't believe it.Jessica is a thinking four-year-old, who doesn't believe everything she is told. She is sure there are monsters in the house, and her grandfather good-naturedly agrees with her. She decides to hunt them out to prove she's right to her disbelieving parents. Her nocturnal adventure makes ordinary things scary, until she realizes that she's stepping on or bumping into all the toys, etc. that she left out during the day. And the monster she was so sure existed; well, that was something friendly and familiar all along, too.
Jessica Takes Charge is a cute book about confronting fears, appropriate for young children. Kids will identify with Jessica's persistent personality and efforts to sort out the world according to the way she understands it. The story could be a bit longer, though, with some elaboration on the construction of her monster trap plus why Jessica has stuffed monster toys if they created her fears. A child could easily become more involved in this type of plot.
The illustrations by Leanne Franson are bright watercolours, and they provide the correct setting for the story. The monsters in the shadows (that only Jessica sees) have pointy tufts of hair, just a little scary, but they also smile to indicate they're friendly, too. The St.Bernard, modeled after Franson's own, is a constant companion throughout the story.
The satisfactory ending to this story will be a comfort to small children trying to figure out what's hiding in the closet at night.
Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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