A young dinosaur lover’s dream comes true when he visits his Loch Ness grandmother.
Finlay’s gran claims to have seen the monster—even to have fed it shortbread. Trailed by a big sister sporting both earbuds and a skeptical attitude, he “spots” Nessie everywhere: in a local business’ sign; in an inflatable toy monster left at the loch’s shore; a “head” that turns out to be a research submarine’s periscope; and a long, spooky shadow from (adding a surreal note) a construction crane that rolls out of the woods. Ultimately, of course, when Finlay declares that there is no monster and angrily chucks a handful of Gran’s shortbread into the water, up rises a green monster reminiscent of what Steven Kellogg’s eponymous Mysterious Tadpole (1977) grew into. The older figures in Harris-Jones’ bright cartoon illustrations mostly just stand around in static poses and watch as Finlay goes from high excitement to drooping disappointment—but the lake and the green, rolling hills all around give the quest and encounter an idyllic setting.
A bit of monster hunting, contrived of plot but predictable of outcome and too bland to be scary. (Picture book. 5-7)