by Sean Taylor
illustrated by Nick Sharratt
Roaring Brook Press 2007
(Orchard Books 2006 Great Britain)
A small note in the end papers indicates that the text was based on a traditional Brazilian poem but the format feels more familiar, like the rhythm is part of a universal storytelling cadence .
When a Monster is born there are two possibilities --
Either it's a Faraway-in-the-Forest Monster, or...
...It's an Under-the-Bed monster.
If it's a Faraway-in-the-Forest Monster, then that's that.
But if it's an Under-the-Bed Monster...
And so begins the page-turning plot, each presenting a pair of possibilities that diverge and offer the picture book equivalent of the "if/then" logic statement. No doubt children will enjoy the unpredictable absurdities (monster eating a principal, getting slopped with porridge) as the plot finally twists its way back to the beginning, offering a closed-loop universe as the Monster gets married and has a child.
A sturdy option for the reader (or lap-sitter) who is just starting to appreciate the cleverness of plot diversions, nonsense and the thrill of connecting endings and beginnings in their storytelling. There was something a little Remy Charlip about it, which is never a bad thing for me.