Rockataur (Monster Makers) by Ali Sparkes

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Rockataur (Monster Makers) by Ali Sparkes

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A fifth adventure for the young creature creators, facing them up against a most unexpected antagonist. It's a sign of the rare qualities of this series that four stars marks out a slightly weaker effort this time round.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 176 Date: May 2009
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 978-1407108728

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If four books so far haven't taught us that having the ability to dream up pictures of monsters, sprinkle them with a magic potion, and get them to come to life - whether in our world or in their own underground universe - is a mixed blessing, here is another lesson for young Jack and Lewis. But here they're a bit more innocent than before. No, here it's someone else who is causing their lovely Aunt Thea a major headache, and our heroes are forced to become a pair of little espionage agents to solve the problem caused by a naive remark or two.

It's to the credit of these books and this author that I don't mention who the baddie is - there is enough thought put into these titles to satisfy adults, and more than enough laddish larks for the target reader to keep the 6-10 year olds quieted. I'll just say that if you've road-tested these for your children before, and remember only a few of the salient facts, the end-of-chapter-one reveal will have you hooked.

That's not to say this is quite as brilliant as the third book in the series, with its rewrite of classics. Here we get a return to the more basic - the oddball adult, the daffy henchmen, and several other formulaic ideas. But there is a lot of consideration in making our young stars intelligent enough to sound realistic lads, but able to best their opponents.

It's such sprightliness and wit that spreads from Jack and Lewis to everything here - the return to the world of the monsters, and the star creature of the first half of this book (and his reason for not being in the second half). So you will understand me when I say this is as near as a let-down Ali Sparkes has given us in this series, but it still deserves four stars in my eyes.

It's not the first time she's done it, but the title monster only crops up towards the end, and I felt we could have had more fun with him entering earlier. And to go back to my earlier comments about Sparkes giving us topics unusual to juvenile fiction, I don't think she went far enough in explaining why the manic, magical roller-coaster, could be such a bad thing. For adults we immediately see the English-Heritage-from-Hell scenario is of import, but I'm not convinced the young will feel the same.

But before I sound too critical, I stand by my opinion that the escapology, the danger and the surprises we get here are the basis of a solid adventure, and this will still happily sit on the shelves with the rest of these books - even if it won't get read as much as your child's favourite entries to this ever-entertaining series.

The series started here.

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Buy Rockataur (Monster Makers) by Ali Sparkes at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Rockataur (Monster Makers) by Ali Sparkes at


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