Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Monsters by Russell Hoban and Quentin Blake (Walker Books)


Written by Russell Hoban

Illustrated by Quentin Blake

Published by Walker Books

Quentin Blake is such an astonishing AND prolific talent it's almost impossible to keep up with his books, but we aim to try - and this superbly dark tinged story sprung on us by surprise. Tucked into the library stacks, we hadn't encountered it before but absolutely had to take it home with us.

"Monsters", written by Russell Hoban and illustrated by Sir Quentin himself, is the seemingly simple story of John. John is almost like every other boy but there's one thing John loves more than anything else. He loves to draw monsters.

Thin ones, fat ones, horrible ones, cute ones - Monsters of all shapes and sizes. John's Mum and Dad are a bit perplexed but wonder if a chat with a friendly doctor might not go amiss.

John then begins an amazing new work of art - on a huge piece of paper. Piecing the whole picture together one tiny tantalising bit at a time, it's obvious that John is working on his most incredible masterpiece yet.

John's parents are intrigued. John's doctor is perplexed but wants to know how the image is going to turn out.

We won't reveal the deep dark twist at the end of the book but it's really quite something, and the ending left Charlotte wanting to know more - and with a myriad questions about what John actually did!

Russell's observations of child behaviour are incredible - his keen eye makes this an essential read, but there's a serious message tucked into this wonderful story, crossing the line between a celebration of a young boy's active and focused imagination and the psychology of how children like John interact with the world around them and other people (including their nearest and dearest).

It's hugely thought provoking stuff, don't miss it!

Charlotte's best bit: The slow reveal of John's huge monster masterpiece

Daddy's Favourite bit: A book with real layers of acute and expert observation of child behaviour from Russell, raising almost as many questions as it answers and all wrapped up in Sir Quentin's illustrative expertise. Heck of a book!

(Borrowed for review from Abingdon's wonderful library)

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