With its wide variety of monsters, mild creep and gross factors, and potential to allay some fears about fitting in, this is sure to find a wide audience among beginning readers.
Perfectly normal Norm realizes immediately that he does not fit in at his new school. Horns, claws, fangs, strangely colored skin, hairy bits and eyes on stalks are all common at the Monster School, where the teacher is Miss Clops (she has only one eye), and the headless principal announces that, “It is normal to feel odd on your first day.” Slightly creepy tongue-in-cheek humor abounds, as it did in the author’s Bobby Bramble Loses His Brain (2009), and is sure to elicit chuckles. Is Miss Clops winking or blinking? Will the class ever find Gary, a ghost, in their game of hide-and-seek? Which of the two-headed girl’s heads will win the bubble-blowing contest? And most importantly, will Norm ever fit in, or will he be normal forever? Keane’s artwork nicely complements the text, his monsters coming off less as scary freaks out to get Norm than as regular kids who look a little different on the outside. Their faces are childlike and expressive—not frightening at all—and the illustrations ably help readers decode vocabulary.
Not just for the first day of school; this is sure to appeal year-round. (Early reader. 5-8)