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Little monsters is a book by Jan Pienkowsk, a writer from Warsaw. I and was originally published in 1981 but was reproduced in the last time in 2008.
This book is a very short hard back book only ten pages long which goes through a series of describing five monsters.
The first monster is described by playing with his food. The page pops up revealing a bird appearance type and its wings and beak pop out an exposes his long tongue and a couple of not so happy looking stripy worms swirling out from the page.
The second rude monster has is green with his hand waving above his head and a long spotty tongue sticking out who you can say "ner ner ne ner ner"
The third is and angry looking monster who wants a fight .He is wearing boxing gloves and has a bright red angry looking face. The strange thing about this image is that although he does look angry there is also something humorous about him.
The fourth is another small bird looking monster that is described as up all night and appears with one eye closes and as you move the pages the other eye can be seen hiding behind a pop up eyelids.
The final monster is a rather cute looking monster that is reminds me of a pig yet is wearing green mirrored sunglasses. It has a convoluted nose erupts out the page with a sexy pair of red lips.
This book is one of my friends son's favourite and has now been loaned to my two year old son. My son was immediately excited when I asked if he wanted me to read a story about a monster and the wonder of this book is not in the story but the images. The quality of the pop ups are exceptional and not like anything I have seen in any other children's book.
My son is interested in each monster and will pull and prod and each monster. Fortunately it is actually very good quality and so can take a little pulling. The final page my son does give the monster a kiss and we go through each page then counting the monsters.
The print in this book is large bold print which is the type I tend to think does suit pre school books. Despite there only been a few words on each page the words do tend to flow.
I would highly recommend this to toddler age children; although I think it would be more suited to boys I am sure that girls would also enjoy it. I do think it is a book that they will love for a long time.
Amazon are currently selling this book for £6.29
ISBN no. 978-0763638535
British / Polish illustrator Jan Pienkowski has produced some cracking children's books over the years, although he is probably best known for the 'Meg and Mog' series in which he collaborated with author Helen Nicoll.
Pienkowski is a specialist in the genre of pop-up, in which, he has created around twenty books in his time. One of my favourites works has to be 'Little Monsters', which is currently available in two versions. The first is the white hard-back which measures only 10.5 x 7.5 cms, and belongs to the 'Minipops' range of books. The second is the larger, red covered 24.4 x 18.2 cm version which can currently be purchased from Amazon for £4.48. As I own the small white version, this is the one which my review will primarily focus on.
What's it all about?
I suppose you could say that the book takes the form of a guide to monsters... albeit a five paged and incredibly simplistic guide. One of the monsters likes to play with his food; another is rather rude, a third wants a fight, and one is up all night - you get the general idea! In terms of the narrative, it all may sound rather lame, but It's not the story which is the main focus of the book - it's the clever and colourful pop-up's which are beautifully crafted. In fact, these wonderful protrusions are some of the best examples of pop-up work in a children's book that I have seen to date.
Each monster is visually impressive and technically sound - reaching right out from the page toward the viewer. Similarly, the illustrations are simple yet great to look at - Pienkowski is not afraid to splatter paint and use interesting textures in order to achieve the look that he wants.
Bring on the beasts!
The first monster is a feathery, birdlike specimen with a stripy wiggly worm trying to escape from its beak. The rich blue, combined with the yellow paint-splattered beak makes for a bold and eye catching palette. Opening and closing the page controls how wide the beak opens - but will the worm be able to escape?
The second monster is a green amphibious type who is more than happy to poke his tongue out at the reader... "rather rude" indeed! I love the way the pop-up works on this one - it's a really simple yet effective mechanism which also raises the creature's hands in the air in a mocking gesture.
Monster number three is a aggressive yet humorous looking creation wearing boxing gloves - you wouldn't want to mess with this dude, as it looks like he's after a fight. His striped blue top, combined with the stars in the background give this particular piece an American feel - a hidden message perhaps on the part of Pienkowski?
The most simplistic monster in the book is number four, whose eye opens and closes as you turn the page - this one is actually quite cute, and a bit like an owl in appearance. The illustration here is really simple but effective, very textural and effective.
The next monster is a real cracker - but what does it look like? - you'll just have to get hold of the book for yourself and find out. Let's just say that it wants to give you a big kiss...
You don't scare me
The monsters themselves aren't particularly frightening, and as such, the book would be suitable for nursery or pre-scool children. The quality of the book is actually pretty hard wearing, and each of the pages are made from fairly thick card. That said, any pop-up book should perhaps be read with adult supervision as kids can get a bit excited and rough. My two-year-old nephew certainly gets excited when he's reading this one, and he likes me to turn the pages for him, whilst pretending to be shocked when he sees each monster.
All in all, Little Monsters is a great little pop-up book which is beautifully created and a joy to look at. The story, which takes the form of a few lines of simple poetry, is nothing special, but the illustrations which literally come out of the page make this book a worthwhile investment. Although there isn't much text, the typeface is large and easy to read for both kids and adults alike - so no eye-strain here.
If you want a guaranteed child-pleaser, then you can't go too far wrong with this proven Pienkowski piece - it's a classic, and highly recommended by me.