The Monster Next Door

illus. by David Soman. 40p. Dial. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525427834. POP
PreS-Gr 2—The cocreator of the "Ladybug Girl" series is back with his second solo effort—a tale of an unusual friendship. The story starts with a boy standing on the deck of the tree house, a spyglass in hand and a bucket full of water balloons at the ready. One day, he spies a new tree house being built nearby. His new neighbor is a rotund purple monster sporting a vest and two horns on the top of his head. At first the two don't appear to have much in common. But before long, they are setting up a pulley system to pass notes back and forth between the two abodes. They decide to celebrate the newfound friendship with a shared interest—playing music! Unfortunately, the sound of the tuba that the monster plays drowns out the music from the boy's small kazoo. The illustrations visually represent the music excellently, with swirling watercolors that extend out from the instruments. The boy can be seen recoiling from the monster's music, which presses down on him and envelops his sound. The monster doesn't respond to the child's complaint that he is playing too loudly, and soon they are hurling insults and water balloons at each other. Furious, the boy cuts the rope on the pulley and stomps over to hand deliver a friendship-ending note. The resolution that follows is realistic and right on target for the audience.
VERDICT Kids will relate to the intense emotions of disagreeing with a friend and the simple act of making up once the anger has passed. Great for read-alouds and small group sharing.

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