Hodgepodge: How to make a pet monster by Lili Wilkinson

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Illus. by Dustin Spence. Albert Street Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781760877385.
(Age: 6+) Recommended. Artie an eleven year old science nut who definitely does not believe in monsters, ghouls, ghost or fairies, finds himself in an old house with his renovation driven single mother and her new partner David. Not knowing what to call David is only part of his problem, the main one being that he has moved in with his twelve yer old daughter, Willow.
Determined not to like her, Artie retreats to the attic where he finds an old book with recipes for producing monsters. Willow takes to the book instantly and focusses on which monster to create.
Each few pages of this very funny book has a fact file about a particular monster, and the whole book is presented with engaging cartoons, illustrations and different fonts. An easy read, the book is divided into twelve short chapters, each of about fifteen pages, thrilling the readers with witty text and comic illustrations.
The relationship between Artie and Willow develops despite their animosity and when they do create a pet monster, Hodgepodge, are at a loss as to what to do with it.
He causes some problems which are blamed on Artie and Willow, so they decide to send him back. Their attempts fail each time and the monster's farting shows that he is still around. But in the background is an oddly dressed gentleman wanting to help. They visit his museum but are unimpressed with his motives and so decide they must retrieve Hodgepodge.
The first in a sparkling new series, the misadventures of Artie and Willow are sure to win a wide audience.
Themes: Monsters, Pets, Humour, Step families.
Fran Knight