Short Stories for Little Monsters
by Marie-Louise Gay; illus. by the author
Primary Groundwood 48 pp.
3/17 978-1-55498-896-9 $19.95
Here’s a collection of super-short stories — one per double-page spread — in the growing tradition of such collections (recently, for instance, One Day, the End, rev. 9/15; Benjamin Bear in “Brain Storms!” rev. 5/15). This one, mainly in comics format, is marked by author-illustrator Gay’s signature energy, cheerful near-chaos, and abundance of humor. Characters recur — and not just the happily messy children in Gay’s diverse mix, but also snails, worms, and ants. “Snail Nightmares” features three multi-paneled strips picturing a snail getting up such a head of steam it can’t stop (and crashes into the far-right edge of the comic strip); a snail who realizes it’s lost its shell (“Eek! My pants!”); and a snail being teased by a couple of sniggering birds (they’re in the far-left panel holding down its tail while the snail, in the far-right panel, says, “Verrry funny”). The book’s layout is varied and creative, with the panels themselves often incorporated into the art, as when two sides of a panel serve as anchors for a clothesline in “The Incredible Invisible Twins,” or when the wind blows a panel right off its strip in a story about making faces that then get stuck. A rare (quite gorgeous, and very funny) unpaneled spread reveals what trees talk about to one another. Original, inventive, pore-over-able, and child-pleasing; it’s well worth being deemed a “little monster” to be the audience for this book.
From the March/April 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.