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  • Writer's pictureSandy

Mary had a Monstersaur; written by Mike Dumbleton, illustrated by Peter Bath

I love this gorgeously 'scary' version of the well known children's rhyme Mary Had a Little Lamb. In this version of the story, it's not a cute little lamb that follows Mary to school, but rather a big Monstersaur that's climbed out of a hole behind the shed in Mary's backyard!

Young readers will love to predict what kind of chaos a Monstersaur might cause at school. What follows is a joyous romp as Monster sits on top of the school bus and crushes climbing frames. Mr 4 giggled when Monster even followed Mary into the toilet block!

As the chaos continues, it is clear to the reader that Monster is sad too. He speaks of his past - his family and friends, and a world that "didn't last." He also finds he is too large and loud to fit in, and dejectedly speaks of going back home. But suddenly Monster is hot news as word spreads about him, and everyone wants to post pictures of him online!

Will Monster decide to stay?

This is a heartwarming story of friendship and fun, but on another level it is a story of of trying to fit in when you are different to everyone else, of missing friends and family, and of the feelings of isolation and displacement that this can bring. Young readers will be reassured by the exuberant ending, which fills us with hope and joy.

This book provides a beautiful and fun way to teach children about kindness, friendship, diversity and empathy. I imagine some interesting conversations might follow the reading of this story - about reaching out to others who might be perceived as different, or who might be feeling lonely and need some friendship and kindness. A young audience might also like to imagine the fun they could have with their own Monstersaur!

The bright humorous illustrations are filled with warmth and movement. Mr 4 loved following along with the colourful pictures as I read the story to him. The playful flowing rhymes kept him engaged and entertained and are a joy to read aloud.

I love children's books that play with and subvert traditional nursery rhymes, and young readers will revel in this retelling of Mary Had a little Lamb. I have a feeling that many young readers (and perhaps even adults!) will also long for very own 'Monstersaur!'

Published by Larrikin House



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