Age Range: 4 to 8
The Story: Tamara Small is lying in bed listening to the wind howling when a monster comes into her room and whisks her off to the Annual Monsters’ Ball in the village hall. After her initial shock Tamara has a great night dancing with all of the monsters. They dance until sunrise and then surprise Tamara with a slime cake before the witches cast a magic spell to send her back to bed.
I wasn’t sure if my daughter would be scared by a story about monsters grabbing a small girl out of bed (although they do all turn out to be very friendly) but she loves this book so much that we read it two or three times in one sitting. The wonderful rhyming text is easy to read and great to join in with and my daughter has also learnt some new vocabulary e.g. clutches, sublime, startled. The colours used in the illustrations are quite dark to fit the theme but none of the characters are scary looking, some of the monsters are quite cute and the witches are friendly. It is amazing what an array of characters go to the ball – ghouls, ghosts, vampires, a skeleton and a wolf (who does some great breakdancing!). Tamara is a cute character that children will identify with and her teddy bear goes everywhere with her. The bear’s emotions mirror Tamara’s, he is in shock when they meet the monsters but he also ends up having a great time.
This would be a great book to read before Halloween to allay a child’s fears about monsters, ghosts and witches. My daughter knows that monsters are only in stories but if your child has a vivid imagination hopefully this book will persuade them that monsters are nothing to worry about.
I can imagine using this book in the classroom to write slime cake recipes – children could have so much fun discussing the ingredients. Do the monsters use green food colouring or is something much more disgusting used for the icing?! It is also a great book to teach rhyme or initiate a create your own monster session.
Tamara Small and the Monster’s Ball was a finalist in The People’s Book Prize in December 2012. Thank you very much to the author, Giles Paley-Phillips, for sending us a copy. We have very much enjoyed reading it.