A thoroughly enjoyable story that’s reminiscent of the classic Chicken Licken but with a fresh and original twist.
Bif is a green monster who’s so busy chomping on his breakfast that he doesn’t notice the Big Red Rock until he almost walks right into it. Angry, he tells the rock to move out of the way. Unsurprisingly, the Big Red Rock doesn’t reply. Bif then remembers his manners and tries asking nicely but that doesn’t work either. Bif tries everything he can think of to get the Big Red Rock to move. Nothing works. Luckily, he has some friends who might just be able to help.
This is thoroughly enjoyable story. It’s slightly reminiscent of the classic Chicken Licken (in terms of structure where friends are asked to help the main character with a problem), but the introduction of the Big Red Rock and monsters rather than animals gives this a fresh, original and modern feel.
The characters are wonderful and I’m confident children will love them. For example, our main character, Bif, may be a green monster but he behaves very much like a child – first demanding that the rock move out the way, then remembering he should be polite before trying to kick, bash, push and pester it out of the way.
Everything about the supporting characters is also fun from their names to the way they try to help. There’s a blue monster called Bop, the Big Red Rock Eater (who sadly has a wobbly tooth so sadly can’t manage more than a few nibbles), and the Small Blue Rock Singer (who’s voice is so loud it can break rocks). There’s also the Yellow Rock Crusher, the Green Rock Driller, the Orange Rock Scarer, the Pink Rock Sucker, and the Purple Rock Tickler.
The stylised pictures are bright and colourful. (Notice the way author/illustrator Jess Stockholm has sneaked in a little learning through naming the various colours of the monsters). The pictures had the potential to be repetitive giving the subject matter but the different size, shape and layout avoids this adding variety and interest.
I was also impressed by the characterisation in what appear to be incredibly simple images. Bif, for example, is able to show his full range of emotions from his happy face while chomping on his breakfast to his anger and frustration when the Big Red Rock won’t get out of his way. By far my personal favourite is the image of Bif, Bop and the Big Red Rock Eater cowering when the Small Blue Rock Singer opens his mouth.
The story does have has a clear moral – that some things cannot be changed but there may well be other ways around the problem not previously seen – and a theme of teamwork and problem solving. Children, however, are more likely to accept this as fun and simple story. Indeed, I fully expect many children to have hours of fun playing at being one of the monsters.
If you enjoyed this, you might like a tale of an entirely different type of monster. Why not try Dave the Lonely Monster by Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie.
Date: November 2017
Publisher: Child’s Play (International) Ltd