About the Holiday
Established in 1919, Children’s Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. Running from May 1 – 7 under the theme of One World, Many Stories, this year’s Children’s Book Week offers events nationwide at libraries, bookstores, schools, and other venues. Kids and young readers are also invited to vote in the Children’s and Teen’s Choice Book Awards. To find plenty of downloadable activities, bookmarks, and other fun stuff as well as to discover events in your area, visit Every Child a Reader!
Short Stories for Little Monsters
By Marie-Louise Gay
Open the cover of Short Stories for Little Monsters and you immediately enter the mind of a child with all of its imagination, dreams, fears, questions, and quirky philosophies. Nineteen two-page stories told in comics-style panels populated with rakish kids, pointy-nosed snails, talking trees, and lots and lots of color will have readers giggling from beginning to end.
The first story—When I Close My Eyes—gives a glimpse of the antics to come as a little girl walking with her older brother asks him to “guess what I see when I close my eyes?” Her brother just wants to move on faster and tells her she can’t see anything with her eyes shut. Finally given the “Ok! Ok! Sigh,” the little girl closes her eyes and with a wide grin reveals a bear thinking about a fish, pink polka dot and plaid elephants, kites, eyes, balloons, a stopwatch tree, and flowers to swing from. Her brother’s reaction? “That’s impossible.” Perhaps he’s just too old….
In The Incredible Invisible Boy, a pillowcase encased boy joins a soccer game in progress, moving from position to position while exclaiming “I have superpowers!…I can become invisible!” But the other kids never take notice as they pass the ball over his head, scramble to kick it first, move the ball up field, and finally run off the page, leaving the covered figure to sigh, “The incredible invisible boy strikes again.”
Kids aren’t the only ones who have weird dreams. In Snail Nightmares, thee little shelled guys suffer night terrors too. One dreams of slithering too fast to stop at the end of the panel without hitting its head, another conjurs the embarrassments of losing its pants, and the third has its tail stretched waaaay out by a tricky bird.
Nobody Nose catches a girl tightrope waking on the clothesline, only to be told by a passing boy, “You’re going to fall. You’ll break your nose into a thousand pieces.” He wanders off but not before he instills a deep doubt in her mind: “I wonder what you’ll look like without a nose…or with a new nose?” She then imagines herself gazing in the mirror at her noseless face and trying on a series of fake noses, including a carrot, a pig snout, and an elephant trunk. She finally resorts to covering her head with a cardboard box. The little boy peeks around the last panel to say he likes the carrot nose the best because it goes with her shoes. And indeed it does.
Remember when you could find dangerous adventure anywhere? The two girls in Monster! run shrieking from “a monster from outer space” who drools “poisonous slime,” sports “enormous fangs…and sharp pointy horns,” and is set on devouring the girls alive. As the two cower in safety behind a thick tree trunk, the object of this horror slides by with a sly nod to “snail power.”
Other stories introduce lowly worms that “rule the world,” a zombie mom who can see through walls and ceilings, the “secret life of snails,” mispronounced words, artistic renderings, and faces ungainly stuck in place during a bad wind. And as these stories wind down, readers will want to follow the bunny down its rabbit hole to uncover not only The Secret Life of Rabbits, but another world of whimsy, eccentricities, and fantasy that enhances life no matter how old you are.
Both kids and adults will love Marie-Louise Gay’s funny tribute to childhood. Her vivid pencil-and-watercolor drawings perfectly expose the moments of a day that bring joy, triumph, and, yes, maybe even a touch of consternation to life. Short Stories for Little Monsters would make a delightful gift and a book that would be opened again and again for home libraries.
Ages 5 – 8
Groundwood Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1554988969
Discover more about Marie-Louise Gay, her books, her art, and her TV show as well as printable materials on her website!
Children’s Book Week Activity
Books to Love, Books to Read Book Bag
This is the perfect week to fill up a bag with books you’d like to read! Here’s an easy craft for making your own unique bag!
- Printable Templates: Books to Read Template | Books to Love Template
- Small cloth bag, available from craft or sewing stores—Recyclable Idea: I used the bag that sheet sets now come in
- Cloth trim or strong ribbon, available from craft or sewing stores—Recyclable Idea: I used the cloth handles from shopping bags provided from some clothing stores
- Scraps of different colored and patterned cloth. Or use quilting squares, available at craft and sewing stores
- Pen or pencil for tracing letters onto cloth
- Small sharp scissors (or cuticle scissors) for cutting out the center of the letters
- Fabric glue
- Thread (optional)
- Needle (optional)
- Print the sayings and cut out the letters
- Trace letters onto different kinds of cloth
- Cut out cloth letters
- Iron cloth bag if necessary
- Attach words “Books to Read” to one side of bag with fabric glue
- Attach words “Books to Love” to other side of bag with fabric glue
- Cut cloth trim or ribbon to desired length to create handles
- Glue (or sew) handles onto the inside edge of bag
Picture Book Review