Ruffleclaw, an “earth monster,” is obsessed with human things—which will cause some problems.
Ruffleclaw’s tired of living under a shed and eating only bugs. He’s also tired of his earth monster neighbors, Shaggystink and Wormtooth, and their disdain for all things human. At night, Ruffleclaw picks the locks of human houses (easy with a claw) and gapes at all the wonders within. He’s especially fond of the “ice-cold box” where they keep the best food. He decides to go live with a human family, choosing a house where he’s heard the most delightful, “creepy-crawlicious” music. When Tommy wakes next to a hairy, red, four-armed, smelly monster, he tries throwing Ruffleclaw out, but the earth monster is nothing if not persistent. Tommy decides to keep Ruffleclaw as a pet—after all, he’s always wanted a dog, and the monster actually talks. When keeping the hairy beast a secret from mom falls through, the duo have to get creative convincing her to let Ruffleclaw stay…and then there’s Tommy’s dad’s allergy to anything with fur. Funke’s playful monster tale, published in Germany in 2005, is a piece with such other outings as Emma and the Blue Genie (2014). While it’s not as inventive or engaging as her longer works, those new to chapters who need a good, funny monster tale to alleviate fears or who like a small dose of gross will find it here.
A sweet, light fantasy for readers just cutting their literary teeth. (Fantasy. 7-10)