The unscary book by Nick Bland

cover image

Scholastic, 2018. ISBN 9781742994147
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Monsters, Humour. Our hero is all dressed up to scare the living daylights out of the reader. He has a donned a skeleton costume, a hat with a row of teeth, large furry slippers and googly eyes sprouting from his head - all things to provoke and scare. But each time he brings something else into the picture he is trying to create, something very unscary enters. Told to expect something scary, readers will laugh with anticipation and then surprise as he whisks aside the red sheet to reveal an apple tree not a monster, nothing scary at all. He tries again, pulling down the blue curtain covered in stars, expecting a monster, but a rainbow appears. Then a bunch of rabbits hop into the picture. Frustrated he calls again for a terrifying thing, only to have an ice cream vendor come onto the page. By now with his hands on his hips, he declaims loudly how he wanted this to be a scary book, full of horrifying and terrifying things, aiming to scare the readers, not make them hungry for an ice cream, or look at a bunch of cute rabbits. Each page rings with his frustration, so after another attempt, his grandma rides across the page, he has had enough, and drags a monster onto the page. The monster unhappily scares everyone else away, but our hero is happy that he now has something scary to show the reader, although the monster is not as scary as he wishes him to be.
A delightfully funny story of not getting what you want, of frustration at things not working out as you intended, this tale will resonate with younger children who will recognise exactly what the boy feels.
Bland creates a wonderful mix of the scary and unscary, using words in a different type to entertain the reader and make them aware of the meanings of some of these new words. In the background can be seen parallel stories: his dog loves the apple tree, digging around its roots and finding a bone, the rabbits eat all the apples, going to great lengths to get the last one on the tree. Readers will love the humour, picking out details on each page, watching the antics of all the other characters on each page.
Fran Knight