Friday, September 22, 2017

Review: Marice the Unbeastly by Amy Dixon, Illustrated by Karl James Mountford

by Amy Dixon
Illustrated by Karl James Mountford
Sterling Children's Books
Picture Book
32 pages 
ages 3 and up

Beasts roar! Beasts destroy! But not Maurice.
This frightfully unbeastly tale about staying true to yourself is for everyone who’s just a little bit different.

With his melodious voice, fondness for kale, and unfailing politeness, Maurice isn’t quite like other beasts. So his concerned Mama and Papa send their ridiculously photogenic beastie to the Abominable Academy for Brutish Beasts to learn how to behave badly. Will Maurice master growling, scowling, snarling, and howling? Or will he prove that being different is a good thing after all?


With monsterly sweetness and abominable fun, this book embraces different in all of its furry and ungrowling ways.

Maurice is a vegetarian, kind and polite—all those things a monster shouldn't be. Not sure how to help him, his parents send him off to monster academy in hopes he'll learn true brutish behavior. Maurice tries, but keeps messing up.

Although Maurice is a monster, his behavior isn't very scary or beastly, and this is reflected masterfully, especially in the illustrations. His black and furry appearance sits like a snug costume around a gentle, green face. He's a monster, but even at first glance, it's clear that he's not necessarily something to fear. His habits support this in a humorous yet caring way. Even when mocked, Maurice doesn't lose face. He tries to make the others happy but remains true to himself. 

The situations are cute, calm and always hold a light sense of humor. The growling and roaring comes across familiar without turning frightening. The other monsters hold their monsterly outside while never growing too scary for younger readers. 

The text tells the story while adding light pinches of humor here and there to make sure a smile never leaves the face. The vocabulary is a bit high even for slightly older listeners and will need some explanation along the way. Some of the clever humor will get lost because of this too. The message still comes across loud and clear, and leaves a warm, huggy mood. Maurice is a wonderful type of different and this is something young readers will love (and need) to hear. He's the kind of monster kids will want to have as a friend too.

And here they are. . .

The Author. . .

The Illustrator. . .

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