Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
|Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems|
|Category: For Sharing|
|Reviewer: Magda Healey|
|Summary: This might be worth a look in the library for the classy graphics and the monsters at the beginning are good, but overall it's an example of form over content, and the BookBag was annoyed rather than impressed.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 48||Date: September 2007|
|Publisher: Walker Books Ltd|
Leonardo starts rather promisingly: with a play on words (as Leonardo of the title is terrible at monstering, rather than terrifying) and a stylish catalogue of strange and awesome monsters begotten somewhere in the Gruffalo-meets-Sendak land, and a good splash of humour.
Leonardo himself is a rather poor specimen: nobody, but nobody is afraid of him and he's very determined to actually scare the tuna salad out of somebody: ideally, the most scaredy-cat kid he can find. After an impressive research session, Leonardo finds such a kid. Alas, he doesn't succeed in scaring him and instead they become friends.
Leonardo is a tribute to (or a derivative of) the Sendak's classic and I can't say I was particularly taken with the execution. Yes, the artwork is reasonably stylish and humorous, and the story is a take on 'how to deal with a terrifying bundle of emotions that resides in every child' theme; but there isn't really anything particularly great about it, while there are several things that annoyed me.
The story, which starts promisingly, peters out quite feebly; not because the resolution is positive, but because it's uninspired and mushy. I had a feeling that the author enjoyed doing the monsters and screeching kid a lot, and then, after Leonardo makes his big decision to change, lost inspiration.
There are also many gimmicky things of the "what's the point of that?" variety. The book is headed "Your Pal Mo Willems Presents" instead of having a normal author's name, why? There are no movie allusions in it. I didn't like the typography - most of Leonardo is set in something that looks like a giant-sized Wild West font to me, but why? It's not a particularly pretty or clear font, and there is nothing Wild West related in the story? And it's all in caps, why? The double page spread where Leonardo's victim shouts out his grievances is not only in large, wobbly capitals but in pale pink on pale blue - I had trouble reading out of full daylight. Graphically, the page mimics the feeling experienced when listening to a screeching child, but communication-wise it's a failure.
All in all, I can't really recommend buying this book. If you come across it in a library, it might be worth a look for the classy graphics and the monsters at the beginning are good, but overall is an example of form over content, and rather annoying. Why tuna salad???
Thanks to the publishers for sending this to the Bookbag.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems at Amazon.com.
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