Monday, March 24, 2008

When a Monster is Born

Well, this is the first time I've gone more than a day without posting. I've actually missed four days. Sorry about the wait.

I've been working diligently getting ready to network at the national Public Library Association conference tomorrow in Minneapolis. Got my resume looking shiny, and I made a bookmark to advertise this blog. Any suggestions as to what I should say to all of those librarians to encourage them to bookmark 'Mayareads' or, better yet, hire me?

Thanks to Carrie for the concerned email to assure me that our absence in cyberspace does not go unnoticed. I'll confess, in the back of my mind, the pause wasn't entirely unintentional. I brought home a few of my favorite new and old monster books to read to Maya. And instead of reviewing one and just listing the rest, I thought I'd challenge myself to come up with FIVE books for our HUGE MONSTER MARATHON (And I'm even going to do it without using the greatest monster book of all time, Where the Wild Things Are. I mean, is there anyone out there who hasn't read that book a dozen times?). I also have some great new monster songs to share. Let's get to the first book.

When a Monster is Born, by Sean Taylor and illustrated by Nick Sharratt, is a new book that got me thinking about monsters. I'd seen it used by another librarian, Michael Boe, for storytime awhile back, but couldn't remember the title or author.

Luckily, in last month's issue of Mothering magazine (Ok, I read Mothering magazine. But remember I am a part-time stay-at-home dad, the magazine, unlike other 'parenting' magazines, is very positive about dads being involved in childcare, and it's just sitting there in the bathroom anyway.) there is a short article about this very book. We'll get to that later.

There is a bit of text in this intergenerational tale, and it's all so clever. I could try to describe it, but it might be better to just give you a sample. Taylor imagines all of the possibilities presented by the advent of a new little beasty:

When a MONSTER is born...
...there are two possibilities-
either it's a FARAWAY-IN-THE-FORESTS monster, or...'s an UNDER-YOUR-BED monster.
If it's a FARAWAY-IN-THE-FORESTS monster, that's that.
But if it's an UNDER-YOUR-BED monster, there are two possibilities-
either it EATS YOU, or... make friends and TAKE IT TO SCHOOL.

There are always two possibilities, both of which are usually silly and implausible, just the way we like them. It's a bit like a Choose Your Own Adventure book that way. At each metaphorical fork in the road, one possibility leads to a dead end, and the other presents a new dilemma.

The tale winds on to show our monster running away after eating the principal but meeting a nice young kitchen girl behind a hotel. They fall in love, kiss, and she turns into a monster as well. They get married and have a baby, which of course leads us all the way back to the beginning. Romantic, no?

It's such a funny, funny book, you'd think it would be popular with the kids, wouldn't you?

Well, it seems Sean Taylor did win the Under 5 Nestle Children's Book Prize for When a Monster is Born. He accepted the award proudly since it is based upon children's votes. However, he declined the award money provided by Nestle, citing the company's violations of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. He questioned whether Nestle is an appropriate sponsor for this prize. Indeed the organization has now ended its sponsorship. Hopefully this doesn't mean the end of the prize. Kudos to Taylor for paying attention, doing the research and making what must have been a tough decision.

Maya likes Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. Here's a new version for when she's being a little monster.

Horns and Fangs

Horns and fangs,
Knees and claws,
Knees and claws.
Horns and fangs,
Knees and claws,
Knees and claws.
Eyes and ears
And tail and paws.
Horns and fangs,
Knees and claws,
Knees and claws.

Look for four more monster books above.


kais_mom said...

Good to see you back Larry... we were worried *wink*.

Good luck at your conference- I think the bookmarks are a great idea!

Anyone who comes to this blog would just have to hire you- your love for books and your family are obvious!

Bit_of_Pi said...

Can't believe Maya is a year old, oh my I am getting old.

Have you read a "Monster at the End of the Book"? My Arizona grandson loves it. I don't have the author handy.

Larry Longard said...

Whoa, that's what I get for leaving a post half done. Check back for the full post, and congrats, you picked one of the five we'll do today. Back to work.