No Such Thing

Jackie French Koller, Author, Betsy Lewin, Illustrator
Jackie French Koller, Author, Betsy Lewin, Illustrator Boyds Mills Press $15.95 (1p) ISBN 978-1-56397-490-8
Reviewed on: 02/02/1997
Release date: 02/01/1997
Monsters, according to popular opinion, live under beds. Koller (the Mole and Shrew books), rather than deny these beasts' existence, questions their frightful intentions. In this mildly suspenseful tale, a boy named Howard tells his mother, ""I heard [a monster] snurkling under my bed."" Meanwhile, a young monster informs his mother that he hears a boy ""sneezing on top of my bed."" Left alone by their disbelieving parents, human and monster peek at each other and shriek in fear; only when their terror turns to tears do they dare a second, curious look. On the closing page, they trade places for a practical joke that's left to the reader's imagination: "" `Oh, Mommy,' they both called together. `Mommy, come quick!' "" Lewin (Somebody Catch My Homework) draws in loose, Quentin Blake-style gestures of pen and ink, and fills the negative space with watercolor washes of dusky blue and brown. She envisions Monster (who reads a scary comic titled Boy) as a warty green gargoyle with clawed toes, a boar's snout and tusks. Koller invents a monster vocabulary: Monster ""whimples"" when Howard whimpers, and ""sniggles"" when his friend giggles. The plot is predictable and even a bit shopworn, yet the energetic telling and agreeable illustrations could put some fears temporarily to rest. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)
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