LONGLIST REVIEW: Monster in the Hood

He’s grumbly and rumbly and frighteningly hungry!

But are things always as scary as they seem?

 

Beware ‘The Monster in the Hood’ – Sammi Squirrel, Henri Hedgehog and Marvin Mouse had heard all about it, but wanted to see it with their own eyes so off they went to seek it out.

“Come out, come out where ever you are! You won’t scare us!”

They heard a squeak but it was only a pack of rats fleeing from the Monster in the Hood with its large orange eye – it was rumbly and grumbly and would eat you up for dinner. But the intrepid trio was unafraid. The monster might scare a pack of rats, but it would not scare them. The story continues with a screech and a cloud of bats, a squeal and a clatter of cats… each group of animals revealed something else about the Monster in the Hood. Huge shaggy hands and a big scary mouth- but the intrepid trio remained unafraid.

Suddenly, there it stood with its large orange eye, huge shaggy hands and big scary mouth just like the animals had said. But what it did not have was a friend. Sammi, Henri and Marvin realised that the other animals had been wrong and that the Monster in the Hood was kind. He just wanted someone to play with. But there was one other thing the Monster wanted that night… Dinner!

 

Throughout the story there are repetitive phrases that the children can join in with. These extend as each animal runs from the monster, allowing children to predict what may come next.

“Come out, come out, wherever you are!

You might scare a pack of rats and a cloud of bats and a clutter of cats

but you won’t scare us.”

This could be developed by children so that they are using their own animals, allowing them to explore the rhyming pattern as well all of the collective nouns for the animals. Collective nouns can be source of great fun and creativity for primary aged children.

Children could use the format of the story to write their own quest. Their aim at the end of the story was to find the monster, but what the trio found was definitely less ‘monsterish’ than they had expected. Children would be able to let their imaginations run wild, sowing the seeds of a monster throughout their story, but ending with creature that may look big and scary but is not a monster at all. Through the descriptions of the monster, many synonyms are used – huge, big, large – children could explore this further to help them avoid repetition and add interest to their descriptions.

In addition, valuable classroom discussion could be initiated by the message within the story. The animals discover that sometimes not everything is at it seems. Rumours about the monster turned out to be untrue (or at least blown out of proportion). Because he was a ‘Monster’ the animals were instantly afraid of him without trying to understand or get to know him. Unfortunately in the world we live in today, people and groups are labelled in a way which can make others dislike, mistrust or devalue them. This has also happened throughout history with many being branded ‘monsters,’ ‘outcasts,’ or ‘a danger’ (be it for their beliefs, an illness or their way of life) in order to shun them from society or as an excuse for unjust treatment toward them. Henri, Sammi and Marvin take the time to get to know the Monster in the Hood and quickly see that he has been completely misunderstood and is no threat. They welcome him into the group. Children could take time to consider through role play, dram and discussion how the Monster feels having animals run from him, being alone and hearing untruths about him because of the way he looks.

‘The Monster in the Hood’ is a wonderfully sweet story, filled with suspense, humour and charm. This is a story of friendship, adventure and discovery.

Monster in the Hood by Steve Anthony

OUP    978-0192739797