Saturday, May 31, 2008

Leonardo the Terrible Monster

Maya's in that cute stage that I think most kids go through. She likes to be startled. On Wednesdays we go to have lunch with Mom at the hospital and are waiting for the elevator, and Maya jumps and squeals when the doors open and someone steps out. The unsuspecting stranger usually gets a big kick out of that.

Another huge one is opening and closing the garage door. We let Maya press the button. She can't quite bring herself to press it all the way in, but when we help her and the door starts to move, she jumps up and down in our arms and yells, "EEE, EEE, EEE, EEE." It's like she's scared and fascinated all at once. We're hoping this isn't a precursor to a fascination with horror flicks.

The monster in Leonardo the Terrible Monster, by "Your Pal" Mo Willems (gotta' like a guy who names himself that for kids), learns that really scaring people is not only hard, it's not as fun. Leonardo is just no good at scaring people. Frankly, they just think he's cute. He doesn't have "1,642 teeth, like Tony." And he isn't tall or weird.

Desperate, Leonardo decides he needs to "find the most scaredy-cat kid in the whole world and scare the tuna salad out of him." He does research until he finds Sam sitting alone. After he gives his best effort until Sam cries, Leonardo feels he has finally done it.

But Sam isn't scared. He's just upset over his mean big brother (which takes a gushing full page of writing to explain). Leonardo decides that "instead of being a terrible monster, he would become a wonderful friend." Of course part of being a good friend is scaring and chasing.

We once saw a video version of Leonardo with Mo Willems doing the narration. With Sesame Street on his resume, you know it's got to be good. Willems' reading style reminds me of Shel Silverstein. I highly recommend seeking it out. Knuffle Bunny was on there, too.

Big Kid Books I'm Reading

Speaking of monsters, there's a big scary librarian in The Legend of Spud Murphy, by Eion Colfer. I've been trying out some more light-hearted books for the Guys Read book club. This one takes just a couple of hours to read, even for me.

The mother of two mischievous boys decides to take them to the library twice a week for three hours. The librarian, Spud Murphy (so named for shooting kids with a spud gun), is notorious for hating children. She forces them to sit on a carpet in the children's section (one tiny bookcase).

When tested, Spud Murphy expertly throws a book stamp across the room and nails the older brother on the head. Scared into submission, the boys at first pretend to read books, then accidentally start to really read them. Turns out they love books. When they exhaust the children's collection, they go for an adult shelf (in Indiana Jones fashion).

Spud catches them, and at first she is livid. But when she realizes why they disobeyed, she realizes she has strayed from her calling, lets them take home the book (a romance novel-they were desperate), and vows to improve the children's collection.

I was at a training session for book club leaders, and the facilitator was describing some of the extra things he did to make the clubs more fun. I began daydreaming of having a contest to see who could accurately throw a book stamp across a room at a drawing of a boy on big paper. Just then the facilitator switched to talking about discipline. He said, "One hard, fast rule is absolutely no throwing things." Maybe I'm not the right guy for this job.


Andrew Clarke said...

It would be good to get your opinion of "Outcasts Of Skagaray". It was written out of concern for the unwanted abandoned children of the world, and seeks to entertain while making a serious point.For sample chapters, please go to Your opinion would be valued.

Larry Longard said...

Sure, I'll look it up. You're quite diligent. I've seen your ads in disguise on just about every children's book forum I've been on. Good luck and thanks for visiting.