The Great Monster Hunt

One morning, Duck is woken by a funny noise – an unknown something is going ‘pshhh, pshhh’ under her bed.  She jumps up and runs for help, telling Pig about the strange sound ‘pshhh pshhh, grrr’.  Pig is horrified, and runs to find Bear, telling him that there is a frightening noise under Duck’s bed going ‘pshhh pshhhh, grrr, bang bang!’  Bear and Pig run to find Wolf, Wolf suggests they tell Owl, and by the time everyone knows the noise has escalated to ‘pshhh pshhh, grrr, bang bang, pam pam, grrrrooowwwwl, oooooeeeeee!’  Concerned about the possible threat to Duck (after all, ‘can you imagine anything kind and cuddly making such a noise?’) the animals gather rope and nets and ‘useful pokey things’, and set off to help their friend.  However, what is waiting for them is not quite what they expect…

The growing mystery element of this story is great fun and astute children will pick up on the steady exaggeration of the noises from under the bed.   Norbert Landa’s text is detailed but pacey and his choice of words comically but kindly exposes the naivety of the animals .  Their innocence is echoed in Tim Warnes’ delicate and whimsical drawings.  Although the last line falls somewhat flat (the reference to mountains out of molehills is not quite clear enough) the writing is in general very successful.

It is quite a long story, and the humour is subtle (Bear whispers to Duck, for example, but is interrupted by Pig shouting), so it is more suited to preschoolers and older.  Try discussing the way each animal embroiders the story and why that happens.  Talk about the ending – was it expected?  And with younger children, just enjoy making and sharing the suspicious noises.

Comical and engaging.

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