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Leonardo, the Terrible Monsterby Mo Willems
Mo Willems will soon be recognized as the prodigious force that drove adults back to picture books, yet kids will love Leonardo as much as adults. The striking palette and artful design showcase Willems's talent as a gifted artist and storyteller. Plus, his not-so-terrible monster stole my heart.
Synopses & Reviews
Leonardo is truly a terrible monster — terrible at being a monster, that is.
Despite his best efforts, he can't seem to frighten anyone. But when he discovers the perfect nervous little boy, will he finally scare the tuna salad out of him?
Or will he think of something even better?
"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.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[Leonardo's] 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." School Library Journal (Starred Review)
"[A] simple message-driven story, elevated by a smart, striking design....A winner for story hours, with plenty of discussion possibilities." Booklist
"[S]weetly original....The highly predictable ending is made fresh by the superb control of pacing, just-zany-enough sense of humor and body language readers have come to expect from the creator of Pigeon and Knufflebunny....Bravo!" Kirkus Reviews
Leonardo is truly a terrible monster — terrible at "being a monster." Despite his best efforts, he can't seem to frighten anyone, but when he discovers the perfect nervous little boy, can he finally be scary? Full color.
Leonardo is truly a terrible monster-terrible at being a monster that is. No matter how hard he tries, he can't seem to frighten anyone. Determined to succeed, Leonardo sets himself to training and research. Finally, he finds a nervous little boy, and scares the tuna salad out of him! But scaring people isn't quite as satisfying as he thought it would be. Leonardo realizes that he might be a terrible, awful monster-but he could be a really good friend.
About the Author
Mo Willems won six Emmy Awards for his writing on Sesame Street. A renowned animator, he is the creator of two Caldecott Honor winners: Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, as well as The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!; Time to Say "Please"!; and Time to Pee! Mo lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York.
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