An ugly monster sets out on a wonderfully strange journey of self-discovery.
The translated text ambles along smoothly enough, but Ponti’s illustrations—equally rich in warm feeling and surreal, precisely drawn figures and details—give the tale wings. Considered so hideous (one member of the comically appalled family gathered around his hatched egg has turned away to throw up) that everyone’s first response becomes his given name, Hiznobyuti eventually runs away from his comfy, cluttered refuge beneath the kitchen sink. He adventures, slaying a much-larger monster with one colossal sneeze, temporarily transforming himself into a tree, “communophoning” with the stars, and saving a dead planet by waking its sun (and a princess on a nearby satellite), among other heroic feats. Home he goes, to find it in ruins and his family in tears since his departure: “Words said the opposite of what they meant, hands did whatever they wanted, and meals were not tasty at all.” Following a joyful reunion featuring “fourteen ordinary desserts and twenty-eight extraordinary ones,” though, everyone dances and sets about rebuilding. Hiznobyuti is left at the end thinking of one last exploit…to see if the princess might want to marry him. Human readers could hardly be repulsed by his looks as, aside from a short trunk, he resembles, like the rest of his clan, an anthropomorphic golden meerkat with wide, batlike ears.
Itzabyuti thruenthru. (Picture book. 7-10)