A monster in my house by The Umbilical Brothers

cover image

Ill. by Johan Potema. Puffin Books, 2018. ISBN 9780143791706
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Monsters, Humour. A story in verse full of fun and anticipation will enthral younger children as they scan the sumptuous illustrations with glee. From the first verse telling the audience about the monster in his bedroom to the last when the monster is revealed, children will be involved with the journey around the rooms in the house looking for the monster, and wondering whether it really exists. From bedroom to hallway, kitchen, bathroom, dining room, study and living room, the four lined verse cry out for prediction and joining in, for learning the lines and calling them out, for telling the reader what to watch out for, as the authors play with the reader, gathering pace until the final reveal. Fun from start to finish, this beautifully illustrated book will never rest long on the shelf.
The highly detailed illustrations by Potma, a Dutch painter and illustrator, living in Berlin, will ensure children's eyes are always drawn to the different monsters illustrated and what surrounds them on each very different double page. I love the endpapers with the range of faces each very different, enjoining the readers to try out their own spooky faces to scare each other with. And I love the rooms, particularly the kitchen with its mass of detail to take in.
Readers will ask questions about what they are scared of, drawing a lesson from the book, that fears are often groundless, and facing them will show how shallow they really are. The last double page shows the readers the clues they may have seen as the book progressed, leading to the answer about what the monster really is. And the clever illustrative hand with the pencil will make the readers laugh even more when realising the double joke being played on them.
Fran Knight