I seem to be reading a lot of all-ages stuff lately, which I attribute to the fact that I am desperately trying to get my 9 year-old son into more comic books. Top Shelf’s Monster on the Hill may be the book that brings him over to the graphically exciting side, my friends.
Seriously. Look at him. How much do you want this guy to perch on your shelf? (psst… Rob Harrell… merchandising!) Okay, let me backtrack.
It’s the late 1800s in a mythical English countryside. Much like Times Square has its share of costumed performers to trap the tourist dollars, each English village has its own monster to terrorize the populace – but not too much, and really, it helps bring some money into the economy. Billingwood, for instance, has the hugely popular Tentacular. He’s got the monster market locked up, with posters, souvenir rubble, iced cream and tentacu-pops. Stoker-on-Avon, however, has… well, in the words of one of the young tourists, “our town monster sucks a bit, doesn’t he?” It seems that Rayburn, Stoker’s monster, has gone 536 days without an attack, and the town fathers have called in help.
Dr. Charles Wilkie, an eccentric doctor with a flair for creative experiments, and a Timothy, a newspaper-hawking street urchin, take it upon themselves to help Rayburn bolster his flagging self-esteem and become the monster his village needs. And they’d better do it quickly, because there’s a big bad on the horizon.
I LOVED this book. It’s one of those reads where I laughed out loud and called out quotes every page or two for my son to hear, because it was just so GOOD. The dialogue is fantastic, very witty without ever talking over or down to a younger audience, and yet still funny enough to make the most serious grownup giggle.
The art? It’s wonderful to look at. Rob Harrell has been an artist and illustrator for over 12 years. He had a syndicated comic, Big Top, run from 2002-2007, and Monster on the Hill’s art, has that comic strip look and feel – and that’s a good thing. There’s great pacing, and the art is friendly and accessible without ever feeling ordinary. I love his take on the monsters; they’re funny, they’re friendly, and they’re monster-y without ever being scary. Perfect for kids who want to stick a toe into the waters without having nightmares.
The best litmus test? Alex, my 9 year-old, sat down with my Nook and read the book. In one sitting. While giggling out loud, looking up, and saying, “Mom – this book is AWESOME. Thank you so much for telling me to read this!” Come on, do you really need another reason to want this book? Fine. Here. Look at a few pages:
Monster on the Hill hits bookshelves in July. Treat yourself!
Monster on the Hill
Author: Rob Harrell
Format: 7.2″ x 9″, full color
Page Count: 192 pages
Binding: Soft-cover with French flaps
Audience: All ages (10+)
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Release Date: July 2013
Diamond ID: MAY131277