by Kevin Shortsleeve
Michael Austin, illustrator
Inside Jacket: What would you so if you found a hungry Gorg in the Neighborhood bog? How would you get a Three-Toed Albanian Snoring Sock Bat out of your drawers? What would you serve if a Thumple-Haired Land Ant dropped by or tea?
If these questions stump you, never fear. Professor LeGrand, the world’s foremost expert on monster diversity, will instruct you on the outrageous habits and appalling behavior o bizarre creatures such as the Sissyfoos, the Whichwayawawa, the Snups, and perhaps worst of all . . . Ralph, Ed, and Joe.
The professor provides a fiendishly hilarious guide to thirteen frighteningly funny monsters, all of which you will certainly want to avoid. This marvelous menagerie is guaranteed to scare the laughs out of you. Take note of every quirky detail in the vivid illustrations and pay careful attention to Professor LeGrand’s warnings. And remember . . . never turn your back on a Hedge-Standing Snit.
Opening: How do you do? I’m Professor LeGrand of LeGrand University, The world’s foremost expert on monster diversity. Pay careful attention to my lecture this morning, take meticulous notes, and remember this warning.
About the Story: Professor LeGrand is here to tell you about thirteen monsters you need to avoid. This day—only two days before Halloween—when all the monsters of the world meet for a grand convention in your town, it is best to listen to the good professor. These thirteen monsters are not the kind you take home to mommy. Thirteen monsters you must know, for if you meet on Halloween night, any of these thirteen will cause a terrible fright.
Tread lightly on this night of Hallows Eve, for the Three-Headed Toad is not your friend Moe. It’s actually the monster Ralph, Ed, and Joe. And when the day is over, and you are counting your treats, do not be surprised if you hear some strange beats. It is only the Three-Toed Albanian Snoring Sock Bat, who will snore, devour your socks, but ignore a black cat.
So listen to Professor LeGrand’s advice or these thirteen monsters will give you a fright on the scariest day of the year. But if you listen you’ll avoid the likes of Gorg, Snits, and Doohickeemajiggers.
What I Thought: When I first saw 13 Monsters Who Should be Avoided I thought the pages were too dark for kids. Then I turned on the light and got over my fright of monsters by listening to Professor LeGrand—who looks like Scrooge. I read this aloud and found myself stumbling. The words had a hard time rolling off my tongue, mainly because my mouth was busy guffawing. It was one of those “Oh, that’s great” kind of laughing.
If the words in these fourteen poems don’t crack you up, the illustrations will do the trick (no pun intended). The illustrations have a ghostly, scary atmosphere that, if it were real, would terrify you and the monster. Many are creepy. Like the thing with nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine feet, but looks like an oddball Christmas tree. Even the dog hates the thing. He’s fiercely tugging on a shoestring and bearing all its teeth.
The monsters that are seemingly not mean also look creepy. Ralph, Ed, and Joe are mild for a monster. Its main preoccupation is with eating. He—they—is wearing a “Kiss the Cook” apron and reading a book entitled “Cooking with Kids.” Pretty tame stuff, if it were not for the peanut butter and kid sandwich.
“They share the same body and same point of view. Which is, they’ll eat anything, and that includes you! But you might have a chance, since the trio is cursed with three different views on what part to eat first. Ralph prefers elbows and Joe likes the belly, while Ed fancies toenails in fig-pickle jam.”
I think kids will like 13 Monsters Who Should be Avoided. The rhyming read a-loud poetry is smart and flows nicely . . . if you can keep from laughing. And you can, if you read it alone and in complete darkness. Any other setting and the laughs will bubble up and out of your belly. The illustrations may have an eerie edge but the text is simply silliness at its best.
Even young children will find the monster’s dozen hilarious. 13 Monsters Who Should be Avoided should not be avoided. It is the perfect picture book for Halloween and should be read as a prelude to trick-or-treat night. For those of you wondering, the Great Pumpkin, not even mentioned.
by Kevin Shortsleeve
Released in September, 1998
Age 6 to 10
© 1998 by Peachtree Publishers, used with permission
Text copyright © 1998 by Kevin Shortsleeve
Illustrations copyright © 1998 by Michael Austin