cover image The Monster in the Cave

The Monster in the Cave

Nicholas Heller. Greenwillow Books, $12.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-07313-8

It's the day before Christmas, and Tobias has a present for everyoneeveryone except the monster at the bottom of the hill. The older members of his family scoff at his concern (""You should know there are no such things as monsters,'' his father remonstrates); it is only his little sister who gives the matter due thought, and who comes up with a solution. That night, while everyone sleeps, she and Tobias make and deliver a monster-sized cake, which is graciously received by the monster who does, indeed, live nearby. Heller highlights a child's unique capacity for belief with warmth and feeling, evident both in Tobias's unshakable faith in the monster's existence and in the secret, shared experience of the two children preparing their gift. His illustrations use bold colors and simple, pleasing patterns to good effect; and his characters have a quirky, offbeat appeal that suits the story's low-key style and humor nicely. Ages 4-8. (September)