Time has passed in the Mo household since the arrival of the little blue monster who, like a rumbustious toddler, crunched, munched and chewed his way into the orderly lives of Mr and Mrs Mo in “Mrs Mo’s Monster” (2014). Author/illustrator Paul Beavis continues his droll depiction of the little monster in “Hello World” (Gecko Press, September 2015).
Little Monster is bored. Mr and Mrs Mo are busy with no time to play – in classic parent fashion, Mrs Mo tells him “we’ll do something fun tomorrow.” That doesn’t cut it with the monster for whom, like most human children, it’s all about the now.
Surveying the (now tidy) miscellany of attic junk he has the brilliant idea to pack a bag and head “off to see the world.” Mrs Mo’s reaction is perfectly understated. “How exciting,” she says. “Can I make you a sandwich?”
He sets off with a spinning globe under his arm and knapsack heaving with attic-tat; trumpets and trophies, rackets and bats. Heading for the hills, he’s having a brilliant time, oblivious to both the trail he leaves as things fall out of his bag and the furtive Mrs Mo who is follows at a safe distance, gathering it up behind him.
But the landscape looms and the shadows lengthen and the little monster begins to tire.
Forlorn, he tosses the globe aside and regards his now empty rucksack. Beavis’s use of visual foreshadowing is brilliant here. It’s the “all is lost moment” for the monster but little readers will delight in spotting the long shadow of Mrs Mo (and the collection of junk) just behind a nearby rock.
Equally delightful is the monster’s facial expression as he clutches her with relief. Ever-cool, Mrs Mo says she thought he might be “missing a few things” and offers him a sandwich. The monster gratefully accepts “just the one.” Restored, he leaps up from amidst an impressive pile of crusts and sweeps Mrs Mo forward on the adventure. Together they climb, the monster reassuring Mrs Mo all the way to the top where they are rewarded with a glorious vista of fiery sunset and patchwork fields.
There’s an amusing reversal here as Mrs Mo appears unsteady and moots heading home. Little monster’s torch beam cuts impossibly through the darkening sky as he bravely declares “I can show you the way!”. Parents will love the monster’s childish provocation at the end and Mrs Mo’s benign response (and Mrs Mo, cuppa in hand, literally on top of the world).
Beavis has a strongly narrative and striking illustrative style. The perspective shifts are brilliant – from the tiny, trailing Mrs Mo who ultimately (and heroically) fills a page, to the confines of the rock landscape that opens to an climatic epic vista of land and sky. Judicious use of colour heightens the sense of intensifying menace with benign blue skies and green fields at the beginning of the adventure giving way to the the fiery reds and ochres in the canyon.
This charming fable is warm and exuberant. Young readers will love looking for the steadfast Mrs Mo on every page almost as much as they will identify with the kaleidoscopic emotion and energy that is Mrs Mo’s Monster, growing up.
With thanks to Gecko Press for providing a review copy.