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Monster Mess!

Margaret McElderry Books/Simon and Schuster
Ill. by S.D. Schindler

Monster Mess

(Hardcover ISBN 9780689864056)

A friendly monster sneaks into a boy’s messy room and cleans up the mess while the boy is asleep.


A cheerily skewed take on the familiar monster-under-the-bed schtick. While the family is nestled all snug in their beds, a clumsy monster creeps around the house. With a head like a frog (including a dangling tongue), an impossibly long tail that curls at the end like a cinnamon bun, funny fins and countless legs ending in red feet that resemble hands, the monster looks designed by a committee. “Shhh, shhh, along the floor I crawl./ Zzzz,zzzz, there’s someone down the hall.” The rhythmic, minimal verse charts his slow progress through the house to his boy pal’s bedroom, which he helpfully cleans, stuffing everything into the closet and spritzing air freshener about. An alarm wakens the boy, and it’s playtime with the monster! Schindler’s quirky and colorful watercolors play with perspective, abetted by a text that dances around the pages in different paths and sizes. Simple but sublime, best suited to the very young. – Kirkus Reviews


Ready to go to sleep, a multi-legged, long-tailed monster heads upstairs and into a bedroom only to hurt itself on toy blocks left on the floor. Grossed out by stinky socks and shoes, a juice-stained sheet, and general untidiness, the creature decides to “Clean, clean,/I’ll make the room so neat,” while the room’s young occupant snoozes in the bed. In the morning, the child awakens (“Ring,/ring,/it’s time to start the day”) and happily discovers his visitor (“Giggle,/giggle!/’A monster’s come to stay./Let’s play!’”)


The watercolor illustrations at times show only part of the creature as its head or other body parts extend off the page. Its numerous arms allow it to accomplish many tasks at once, an enviable feature. The font varies, emphasizing action words in larger boldface letters (“Stuff,/stuff…”) and the rest of the line is a smaller size (“the/clothes/into/the/drawers”). Rhyming, repetitive text and whimsical images whirl on the pages, making this a fun read-aloud. – School Library Journal


Computer graphics help create a great monster in this rhyming nightmare scenario of a creepy presence in the dark. Schindler’s glowing art shows the grotesque creature in intricate detail, complete with multiple popping eyes, tip-toeing feet, and sucking tentacle arms doing all kinds of tasks. Some children may have trouble making sense of the crowded pages, but they will still recognize the scary nightmare (Shhh, shhh, / along the floor I crawl / Zzzz zzzz / There’s someone down the hall) as the monster creeps around the house, stomps up the kitchen stairs, crawls into the boy’s room, and peeks under the bed. Listeners need not worry, however. The climax turns the fear into fun when the boy wakes up in the morning. Kids will want to go back to the beginning to hear and see the shivery stuff again. – Booklist

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