"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."


Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless

The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless

Author: Ahmet Zappa
Monster Designs and Illustrations: Ahmet Zappa
Photo Illustrations and Sculptures: Clay Sparks
Photos of Main Characters: Brian Bowen-Smith
Costunme Design: Paris Libby
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 0375832874

Minerva and Max McFearless have just found out that their father is a Monsterminator and that they come from a long line of legendary monster killers. The book opens with Minerva, Max and their father all trapped in an iron birdcage over a bottomless pit of fiery molten lava. How’s that for exciting?

The book follows Max and Minerva as they set out to rescue their father from an evil demon. They, along with Ms. Monstranomicon, a monster hunting manual that is itself a monster set off have many wild, dangerous and just plain weird adventures as they are being chased by the evil minions of the vile Zarmaglorg.

Even though this book is meant for older children, I’d say in the 9-13 age range, my three year old granddaughter is obsessed with it. Every time she comes over, she heads right for the shelf and pulls it and says “read it Grammy, read my monster book”. What is it about kids loving to be scared? We never really read it, she’s three and has the attention span of a gnat but we spend lots of time looking at the doodles, drawings and photos that are just fun and wonderful. She loves the tongue twisters too. I’ve read the first paragraph of the book at least 100 times and she always wants to hear it again. It sounds funny and she loves that. Kids love funny sounding nonsense and this book is filled with paragraphs that make them laugh.

I finally took the time (she’s not here) to read the book for myself all the way though and I have to say that I wasn’t disappointed. This book is highly entertaining and just plain fun. There are some very creepy parts that I don’t recommend for smaller children, but if they are like my granddaughter, they won’t want the whole book read anyway. Give them bits and pieces and look over the drawings and you’re guaranteed to have a ripping good time.

One thing I loved about the book was the weird recipes in the book like Soldier Slimmers and a Pajama loaf telescope. They’re fun and inventive and just gross. Boys will love it. There’s a castle called Doominstinkinfart which sends my granddaughter off into peals of laughter every single time I say it. Kids like gross, kids like silly. This book is all that and more.

The photos and illustrations are fun as well and the doodles throughout the pages bring interest and a sense of the bizarre and dark to the pages. There are bugs aplenty as are photos of the protagonists, with Ahmet Zappa himself playing the father. The sepia tones of the photos give the book a feel of something old, dusty and scary. Think old black and white monster movie. It’s all fun and thoroughly engaging.

It’s a zany, gross and amusing romp of a read and I recommend it for the older ones but you, like me can modify it for the little ones.

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