This Belgian picture-book debut introduces a boy who loves to swing, his father, and a monster.
Readers first see the white duo bundled in hats and long scarves. Then the father disappears, and the focus shifts to the swinging child and the (initially offstage) titular monster: it smells “of sprouts and old slippers,” and it likes to eat children. The limited palette for the woodland images and backgrounds features mint green, orange, black, white, and tan. Each spread is carefully coordinated, and pattern trumps perspective. The narrative and image placement are sometimes disjointed or confusing, as when two separate domiciles are mentioned in the text but only one is depicted. A little further on, the text on a double-page spread is merely a repetitive list—a search-and-find. The monster enters as a shadow, his long, wavy arms grasping at the swinging child. The boy keeps laughing as the creature repeatedly howls a longer version of the titular nonsense word—a humorous sound to produce—to no avail. In a perplexing penultimate scene, the monster returns home, embarrassed at having failed to frighten the child. (Showing an actual creature is inconsistent with prior treatment and the gag). Father and son leave, anticlimactically, casting scarf shadows that resemble outstretched arms.
While there are clever visuals and excellent cartoon-villain laughter, this book fails to deliver a satisfying story. (Picture book. 4-6)