Thursday, September 06, 2007

Review: A Girl, a Boy, and a Monster Cat

WARNING: Review may be biased.

(But I don't think it is. Still, I thought I'd be upfront about my biases in the following paragraph.)

It's no secret that I admire Gail Gauthier. I've been reading her blog for years and her dry sense of humor never fails to make me laugh. I greatly enjoyed her Young Adult novel, Happy Kid!, and now she's written a novel for the younger set as well. And, really, don't they need a good laugh as much as any reader?

A Girl, a Boy, and a Monster Cat was released this summer and is perfect for the 5-9 year-old reader (or listener, as the case may be). I read it aloud to a six-year-old boy who found it both hilarious and, as the younger brother to a bossy older sister, painfully true to his own life.

Here's the premise: Brandon's mother finds a childcare arrangement perfect for her own schedule, but not ideal as far as Brandon is concerned. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after school, Brandon goes home with Hannah--a girl from his class. While Brandon would prefer watching TV or playing sports after school, Hannah is a girl who likes to make up complicated games based on the premise of a recently devoured book. Hannah controls her games with the will of a dictator--and Brandon never gets the good parts.

As a former Hannah myself, this scenario is all too familiar to me. (Sorry, Kara!) And, Gauthier uses it to riotous effect. Hannah's cat, like Brandon, frequently is an unwitting actor in her games. When Brandon narrates, "We were spying on a cat. He was creeping toward the stand where Hannah's mom keeps all her fanciest plants. You couldn't miss him. He was on the floor right in front of us. Spying on him was an easy job," you understand his pain. Yet, Hannah remains likeable with her endless imagination and exuberant spirit. Because of its appeal to both girl and boy readers, A Girl, a Boy, and a Monster Cat is perfectly suited for a class read-aloud in the first through third grades. Enjoy!
In other reviews:

I enjoyed Mini Grey's Ginger Bear and the review is up at Book Buds.

Rebecca Young reviews grammar books for the youngsters for the Tacoma News Tribune. (Link via The Cincinnati Post.)