So we’re back in the realms of fiction for our Book Monsters advent, and my next choice is Maurice the Unbeastly, written by Amy Dixon, illustrated by Karl James Mountford and published by Sterling Children’s Books.
This is the story of Maurice, who is not like other monsters, he has a sweet, melodic voice, enjoys vegetarian food, and is ridiculously photogenic! His mama and papa, full of concern, send him to the Abominable Academy for Brutish Beasts so he can learn how to roar, destroy, eat meat and crack camera lenses like all the other monsters. Maurice, is unable to change who he is inside and outside, and just doesn’t fit in with the other monsters, steadily failing every lesson in the school. However, when a puppy wanders into the grounds, Maurice finally has the opportunity to show off his skills and the other monsters realise that he may be different, but that’s actually not a bad thing.
This story is really great fun, dreadfully silly and humorous (some great humour for grown ups too), yet underneath it all lies an important message about self acceptance which is wonderful, and perfectly executed in this lovely picture book. It’s clearly written, so it reads perfectly for an exciting and engaging story time, and the message in the book is clear, but gently executed! As someone who was a little bit different at school I would have liked this. It is the perfect book to encourage and reassure children who may be feeling out of place to just be who they want to be and soon enough everyone will respect and enjoy what they have to offer.
Karl James Mountford’s illustrations are really unique and unusual, in a wonderful way. The colour tones of reds and greens give the fantasy, monstrous feel needed, yet they’re softened and muted which make it feel slightly vintage and perfectly reflect Maurice’s softer side. The monster pupils and teachers all look completely different and have brilliant distinctive personalities that make it a lovely book to pour over, containing so much expressive detail.
Maurice the Unbeastly is a gorgeous story for those who love monsters, those who are a little different or those who just love a good giggle!