by Bertrand Santini
Illustrated by Laurent Gapaillard
Translated from - Le Yark
Middle Grade Fantasy
A very funny and cheerfully subversive chapter book about a monster who eats children—until one day he makes a friend.
The Yark is a monster who eats children, and not just any children. The Yark eats nice, sweet and very good children. This Yark is especially concentrated on very well-behaved children, since his stomach is extremely sensitive when it comes to even a dash of bad. Unfortunately, good children are becoming harder to find as time passes, and this Yark has grown very hungry through the decades. Finally, he has an idea—to steal Santa's nice and naught list. With an exact map to all nice children in the world, the approaching doom seems sealed. But things don't always run smoothly, especially for the Yark.
The book starts gritty with a monster who chews soft bones and sucks eyeballs. The Yark loves to gnaw on children, and this fact is not subtle or smooth in any way. More sensitive readers might find this a bit much, but it's a wonderful start to the tale. The Yark isn't nice and yet, he's somehow endearing. The walk along this fence-line is what captures the reader. As the Yark searches for nice children, it's almost easy to feel sorry for him. But only almost. The author keeps the reminder of the Yarks food requirements front and center the entire way through. And there are plenty of children who get devoured in these pages.
The story reads much like a traditional folklore. The sweet part and change doesn't happen until close to the end, and even then, it's a questionable change for the most part. It's this not bad/not good which leaves kids food for thought and makes the Yark hard to forget.
The illustrations are wonderful. The Yark, just like his food requirements, is monsterly yet has a dash of something sweet. There are enough pictures to add a lovely touch to the story and keep even reluctant readers engrossed in the pages.
This is definitely an intriguing read with a monster who will win the reader's heart yet still hold a place of carefullness. I can only recommend it.