MONSIEUR EEK

David Ives, Author
David Ives, Author . HarperCollins $15.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-06-029529-5
Reviewed on: 05/28/2001
Release date: 09/01/2001
Paperback - 179 pages - 978-0-06-447301-9
Library Binding - 192 pages - 978-0-06-029530-1
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Set in a small fictional town in 1609, Ives's first children's book, a fairy tale–like story full of absurd characters who make bizarre interpretations, results in a fun read with a thoughtful message. Feisty 13-year-old Emmaline longs for life beyond MacOongafoondsen (population: 21). Then one day a ship arrives with only a monkey on board (whom the townspeople illogically deduce is a Frenchman). The shifty town bailiff, Lexter Shmink, accuses the monkey—whom he calls Mr. Eek, thinking the sound he makes is his name—of spying and of being responsible for a string of recent robberies, and sentences him to hang. Emmaline then promptly appoints herself as his lawyer. Ives combines suspense (Emmaline and her best friend, Flurp the Town Fool, get caught breaking into Shmink's house to find the stolen goods and flee to a haunted castle with Monsieur Eek in tow) and a carefully woven message about how fear of the unknown can cause disaster. But it's the characters who will win over readers. The townspeople, from Bob the Milkmaid to Onderdonk the Very Tall Woodcutter, a short man who cuts very tall wood, are charmingly odd, while villains Shmink and Mayor and Mrs. Overbite step straight out of melodrama: cold, greedy and more than a little inept. Readers will cheer at Emmaline's impassioned speech at the gallows, and revel in the guilty ultimately getting their comeuppance. Ages 10-up. (May)

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