Monster on the Hill

illus. by author. 192p. Top Shelf. 2013. pap. $19.95. ISBN 9781603090759.
Gr 3–5—Families from the town of Stoker-on-Avon are forced to go on vacation to get a decent monster thrill since their own monster inspires very little fear. In an effort to help him get back his confidence, a lovable, scrappy orphan and a mad genius doctor take him on a journey to reunite with other monster friends. Unfortunately this leaves their town open to attack by the dreaded Murk. The three manage to save the day without any real gore or over-the-top violence. This amusing tale set in an 1860s England in which every town has its own monster will please elementary students. Harrell's cartooning style is colorful and approachable. While it is not particularly innovative, it is well suited to the light and humorous story. The dialogue is full of witty quips and an interesting mix of modern British slang and formal old-fashioned phrasing. Harrell is best known for his syndicated comics, and his first stand-alone book will appeal to children looking for a funny adventure.—Elizabeth Nicolai, Anchorage Public Library, AK

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