Review Blog

Mar 16 2020

A perfect little monster by Penny Morrison

cover image

Illus. by Simon Howe. Scholastic, 2020. ISBN: 9781742999944. 24pp.
(Age: 3+) Recommended. When Iris and her twin brother Fang go to school, mad things may happen. The children are monsters. Mum has to cover Iris' third eye and tuck in Fang's tail to make them look more like the other children, but Iris knows that her brother's behaviour will be embarrassing, because when he arrives he makes eye contact with the children, smiling and saying hello as they walk through the gate. During story time Iris rips into the books while the teacher reads a story, but he says thank you when handed an instrument during the music lesson, shares his toys with the others, plays on the playground equipment without damaging it, and doing craft leaving the pencils and paints as he found them. Iris is aghast, this is not what a monster should do, and readers will laugh out loud at the mayhem she causes as the story progresses, the hilarious illustrations showing the world of difference between good and bad behaviour, showing Iris and Fang to be complete opposites. Iris is a whirlwind of bad behaviour, reflecting some of the behaviour children will be exposed to when they reach school, but also showing children that this behaviour while totally unacceptable, will leave the person without friends.
A very funny look at expectations when children arrive at school, the story also quietly exposes new arrivals to the range of lessons and play they will have. Through Iris' bad behaviour, they will learn the sort of behaviour that is acceptable, not only to the teacher, but also their peers.
I love Mum's appearance almost out of sight, and the looks on the other students' faces are worth watching out for. This is a wonderful read aloud, encouraging children to join in as it is read, miming Iris' bad behaviour, realising that Fang is the better student. Themes: Monsters, Behaviour, School, First day at school, Twins.
Fran Knight

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