cover image Papa!


Chronicle Books, Philippe Corentin. Chronicle Books, $13.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-1640-3

French author/illustrator Corentin suggests that the definition of ""monster"" is all relative, and that monsters may be as afraid of us as we are of them. This volume, which is rather bland despite its theme of surprise, finds a human boy dropping off to sleep only to realize that an emerald-green, froglike creature occupies the pillow next to his. Boy and monster each shriek ""Papa!""--only, to the human's chagrin, the reptilian child's mother is first on the scene. She leads her youngster into a well-lit room full of warty, horned, animal-headed beasts, and offers comfort before taking him back to bed: ""There's no such thing as monsters."" The process is repeated word for word when the boy's father enters the room from an opposite doorway. By placing both ""monsters"" in (rather than one underneath) the bed, Corentin implies equality. However, the green child, with its shocked facial expressions and meek mannerisms, conveys a more distinct personality than its wide-eyed, stiff alter-ego. Corentin frames his illustrations in neat rectangles and precisely tints his gray outlines with soft watercolor hues, yet his technical prowess doesn't make up for a lack of warmth; the story fails to come alive or to give reassurance. For a witty and empathetic execution of a very similar premise, see Jackie French Koller and Betsy Lewin's No Such Thing. Ages 2-6. (June)