A heart-warming tale about a large purple monster, this is likely to be one of those books that’s always top of the bedtime request list.
Dave is a large purple monster. When he was younger he used to make a real mess, romping and roaring and generally upsetting the people in the town. Finally, they banished him to Echo Rock. Now, he lives a quiet life in his retirement cave and he’s a very lonely monster. The only people who ever visit are the local knights who laugh at his toothy grin, wonky ears and scaly skin and try and make him fight. But Dave ignores them. He doesn’t want to fight – he’d rather play rock and roll or take a soothing bubble bath. However, when a six-year-old knight, Sir Percival the Brave, starts throwing vegetables at him Dave decides it’s time to act. It’s time explain that monsters have feelings too.
This is a delightful story with a proper beginning, middle and thoroughly satisfying end. It has a traditional ‘once upon a time’ opening but you shouldn’t allow this to deceive you – the story quickly takes the reader in a totally unexpected direction as we learn of Dave’s passion for rock and roll and the knights rather mean antics. Then, when Sir Percival the Brave appears, we have a lovely twist. A monster teaching a human how to behave!
The text itself is written in rhyme which will help younger children to join in. However, unlike some rhyming stories, it’s not overly forced and the story is certainly strong enough to stand up without the rhyme. There are a few difficult words for the age range (soothe, fiendish, subdued, pledge, tranquillity) but you may not even notice these on first reading as the meaning is easily accessible through the context and pictures.
The pictures are bright and colourful and instantly appealing. As a large purple monster with an incredible array of expressions, Dave inevitably stands out the most. (I particularly loved the contrast between the pictures of the young Dave with his rock star hair style and the older Dave with his flecked white hair and tiny round glasses).
The other characters are equally well done and both the expressions and detail are truly impressive. Indeed, the mischievous expressions of the knights when they arrive to attempt to make Dave fight really made me chuckle as did the sheepish faces of the townsfolk when they are ‘mighty humbled’ by young Sir Percival.
The variety in the pictures and layout gives the story good pace and, combined with this unusual tale, keep us turning the pages. While the first read through may be the most satisfying as you try to find out what is going to happen next, this is undoubtedly a story that that will stand repeated re-reading. Indeed, if you buy this book, you need to be warned that it’s likely to be one of those books that’s always top of the bedtime request list. Altogether, this is a truly excellent book which deserves to become a firm favourite.
If you enjoyed this, why not check out one of the other books by this talented pair – Dogs Don’t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie or The Worst Princess. Alternatively, for another lovely rhyming story about a kindly creature (this time a giant) why not try The Giant of Jum by Elli Wollard and Benji Davies.
Date: October 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s
Author and Illustrator: Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie