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Leonardo the Terrible Monster


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About the Author

Mo Willems is a three-time Caldecott Honor winner for Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity. His celebrated Elephant & Piggie early-reader series has been awarded the Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal on two occasions as well as three Honors. Other favourites include Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs and That Is Not a Good Idea. Before he turned to children's books, Mo was a writer and animator on Sesame Street, where he won six Emmy Awards. Mo lives with his family in Paris, France. Find him online at www.mowillems.com and on Twitter as @The_Pigeon.


PreS-Gr 1-Leonardo is a terrible monster-"terrible" as in he can't scare anybody. He's not big, doesn't have hundreds of teeth, and isn't even weird. So one day he comes up with an idea: "He would find the most scaredy-cat kid in the whole world-and scare the tuna salad out of him!" After much research, he chooses Sam, sneaks up on him, and "[gives] it all he [has]." When the boy cries, Leonardo is convinced that he is a success. But Sam proceeds to recite a litany of wrongs that actually brought on his tears: "My mean big brother stole my action figure right out of my hands-," and on and on. Leonardo makes a decision that is sure to surprise and delight readers. Willems's familiar cartoon drawings work hand in glove with the brief text to tell this perfectly paced story. It is printed on pastel grounds in large, fancy letters that change color for emphasis. Sam's list of woes marches across a spread. Leonardo, a small greenish-beige creature with tiny horns; blue eyes; and pink nose, hands, and feet, first appears in a lower right-hand corner looking dejected, but when he makes his momentous decision, his circular head fills two pages. His antics to produce a scare will have youngsters laughing, while the asterisk next to the number of monster Tony's teeth ("*note: not all teeth shown") will have grown-ups chuckling, too. A surefire hit.-Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community College, CT Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Picture books commonly suggest that monsters, like certain bullies, are insecure and make marvelous playmates. Pint-size Leonardo, a case in point, is "a terrible monster" because "he couldn't scare anyone." As he roars, two people exchange patronizing smiles, and a circus-style, curly-serif typeface implies silly humor rather than danger. Like a Muppet, Leonardo is knee-high with olive-drab fur, a monkey's tail, a pink nose and tiny white horns. "He didn't have 1,642 teeth, like Tony," a six-mouthed purple guy (a footnote explains, "Not all teeth shown"), and "he wasn't big, like Eleanor," whose clawed feet (one sporting a pearl ankle bracelet) barely fit in the spread. Leonardo decides to pick on someone his own size, but when he successfully startles a moping boy, the child begins to wail about a broken toy in inch-tall italics that fill two pages. Leonardo decides that "instead of being a terrible monster, he would become a wonderful friend," and dispenses a consoling hug. Willems's (Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!) finale feels apt but syrupy; Leonardo's decision to be nice seems homiletic. Yet this is an appealing book, sketched in dark brown against grayish pastel backdrops, with evergreen lettering and highlighted key words. Leonardo accurately mimics a child's frustration at not being taken seriously; Willems suggests trying kindness to get attention. Ages 3-6. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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