Monster Makers: Electrotaur and Slashermite by Ali Sparkes

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Monster Makers: Electrotaur and Slashermite by Ali Sparkes

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Two boys imagine up some monsters, only to find them coming real, in this lively adventure for the 7-10 year old audience.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: February 2008
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 978-1407102917

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Of the many things that lively brothers Jack and Lewis enjoy, two are most relevant to this book. One is their garishly dressed, slightly hippyish Aunt Thea, and all the weird and wonderful presents she gives them. The other is their own skill in slavering over a blank sheet of paper, tongue lolling from the side of the mouth, inventing new monsters to populate their fantasy world of nasty critters and volcanic geography.

Luckily, the two don't mix, much – while Thea humours the boys with their artistic skills, there is no connection, until… One such wonderful present has the magical power to transform the monsters off the page and into reality. How are the two boys supposed to hide the beasties, and the damage, from a mother only too keen on calling 999, and make their existence a safe and worthwhile one?

The dynamism of the story here is just as good as in other Ali Sparkes books I have read, and even though the description and depth of detail and characterisation is toned down due to this being an adventure for the under-tens, there is as expected nothing lacking. What's also crucial is the realism of the boys, and the attributes, skills and diet they give their creations seem spot on to me.

The detail of the book we do get is also firmly on the appropriate side – from the way the 'stylish witch' that is Thea turns the boys aside to talk of adult matters with their Mum, to the way shredded bed-linen (courtesy of the slashermite) is blamed on the cat, everything would most probably be recognisable to the intended reader.

This reader, though more than a bit too old for these things, did notice something that seemed a little clunky. What with the electrotaur being a great fan of absorbing, then sparking off great chunks of electricity, there was a bit of an obvious safety lesson presented here, involving water. Similarly, we now know not to burrow into mounds of earth, among several other things. The spirit of Peter Purves lives on – although I don't think this is too cheesy for the youth audience.

And anyway, we don't want the readers to come to great harm. The heroes don't either, as you'd expect from such a family-friendly read, but thankfully the plot does raise more than enough questions, and chapters where we don't quite know where the next strand of the perilous adventure is going to come from.

I have always maintained that it takes a very clever author to write about intelligent characters. Ergo, to depict lively, spritely boys with fertile imagination must also take a singular talent. Some people might disagree with me – especially the girl reading this book, for beyond the plucky Aunt Thea there isn't much that would appear to draw the young female into the adventure – but I think this is the start of another fine series from this author, and, especially if you know boys of a similar age and persuasion to Jack and Lewis, this book is strongly recommended. The plotting, wish-fulfilment style of fantasy, and drawings (although they do have some not-to-scale moments) are all major plus points.

I would like to thank the author for her personally-sent review copy.

Buy Monster Makers: Electrotaur and Slashermite by Ali Sparkes at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Monster Makers: Electrotaur and Slashermite by Ali Sparkes at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Monster Makers: Electrotaur and Slashermite by Ali Sparkes at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Monster Makers: Electrotaur and Slashermite by Ali Sparkes at Amazon.com.


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