Pedro and the Monster Eaters/Pedro y los devoradores de monstruos

Piñata Bks. May 2024. 32p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781558859913. BL.
PreS-Gr 3–A fictional account based on the life of sculptor Pedro Linares (1906–92), a Mexican artist known for his colorful papier-mâché sculptures. Pedro came from a family cartoneros, artists who create piñatas and giant puppets called mojigangas used in parades and festivals in Mexico. The boy would help collect materials for his family’s business but would often get sick from being out in the sun too long. He became so ill one day that he had feverish dreams in which the mojigangas came to life and started chasing him. Just as the monsters were about to catch him, the clouds transformed into fierce and strange creatures that ate the giant puppets. These creatures had sharp teeth and giant claws and looked like a combination of different animals. They called themselves alebrijes. Once he awoke, Pedro began recreating the fantastical monsters, painting them in bright colors and patterns. Pedro became famous for his sculptures, inspiring artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Kids will relate to Pedro’s story, seeing themselves as contributors to their family’s day-to-day life, struggling with nightmares, and using creativity and art to solve a conflict. Unalt strikes a great balance, making parts of the story truly terrifying and showing how the otherworldly alebrijes sprang from the boy’s imagination. Pedro and his family have brown skin. An author’s note appends the work with more information on the real artist’s life.
VERDICT An engaging and bright treatment of a Mexican sculptor that will inspire burgeoning artists, purchase this bilingual book for elementary collections.

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