Rory and the Monstersitter by Rosie Reeve
Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408845516
(Age: Preschool - Yr 2) Rory the Monster loves to cook and he's always creating new and interesting recipes using whatever ingredients he has to hand - bats, bugs, anything is likely to end up in the mix. One evening, his parents decide to go on a dinner date, hiring an enormous hairy monster to look after Rory, Fangus, Lily and Baby Grub. The monster sits himself down in front of the television ignoring what the children are up to in the kitchen and then outside. Their tummies are rumbling so while their parents are enjoying a delicious dinner at the Cockroach Cafe, they concoct their own dinner starting with leaves and twigs, a splash of water, a twist of pepper and a sprinkling of salt. But it is missing a vital ingredient . . .
This is a laugh-out-loud story that has a superb twist in its telling (not just the twist of pepper.) When I first read it to some six-year-olds they were quite quizzical at the ending, but when it finally sunk in what had happened and what was planned they begged for it to be read again and again. Between the text and the superb illustrations there was much to pick up on and enjoy. It also led to a discussion about how authors use unexpected events and endings to turn stories on their heads and how, sometimes, even with all we know we are surprised.
It would be very easy to use this text address the Australian Curriculum Year 1 outcome ACELY1660 ('Use comprehension strategies to build literal and inferred meaning about key events, ideas and information in texts that they listen to, view and read by drawing on growing knowledge of context, text structures and language features') because its humour and twist set it apart from many of the other stories for this age group.