February 27, 2017

Short Stories for Little Monsters

Written and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Groundwood Books
48 pp.
Ages 5-8
March 2017

Whether they’re your little monsters, rugrats, toads, or anklebiters, you can bet that little children will be up to no good and good when March break comes around in a few weeks.  You can either prepare yourself for those days with these humourous stories or share them with your own little monsters to while away the days or nights with some imaginative fun, or save them when your own creativity is waning.

From Short Stories for Little Monsters 
by Marie-Louise Gay
In nineteen short-stories told on single pages or double spreads (except for the final story "The Secret Life of Rabbits" that needs four pages to show us what magnificent worlds rabbits make), Marie-Louise Gay takes readers into the fantastical minds and play of children.  From imagining what can be seen when eyes are closed ("When I Close my Eyes") or fantasizing that no one sees them when clad in pillowcases ("The Incredible Invisible Boy" and "The Incredible Invisible Twins") or outrunning monsters that lurk in the wild ("Monster!"), Short Stories for Little Monsters celebrates the creativity of children in their minds and their play, alone and with others.  And beyond child’s play, Marie-Louise Gay takes their visualizations into the worlds of cats, snails, trees and rabbits, for example exposing what our feline friends really see in a dust bunny or a chess game  ("What Do Cats See?" and "What Games Do Cats Play?") and giving us  a snail’s-eye view into "Snail Nightmares" (who knew?) and "The Secret Life of Snails."  Of course, amidst all the fun there is still the apprehension of every day life, when the teacher may call on you ("Who? Me?"), that your mother can see all you do always ("Zombie Mom") or that your friends might see through your façade of wisdom ("Rhisonoros") but this is all life, told in the splendour of colour, line, shape and ingenuity of the very original and inventive creator of Stella and Sam, Marie-Louise Gay.

From Short Stories for Little Monsters 
by Marie-Louise Gay
The wealth of stories about imaginative fun and speculation abounds in this compendium of illustrated stories.  The stories are a delight, both humourous and insightful, but it's Marie-Louise Gay's illustrations that will grab readers first, as they always have. (She has been honoured with numerous awards including three Governor General's Awards for illustration in English-language children's books.)  In her artwork, that often resembles the loose frames of graphic novels, she tells of childish diversions but gives them life with her effusive children, and ever-present secondary characters of bunnies, cats, snails, birds and other creatures.  The details are whimsical and ever-present, and children will delight in spotting the stray underwear, the fish that can't add 2 + 2, and the rabbit flying a carrot plane.  And the colours, glorious colours! And the swirls, the patterns, the textures of her lines and watercolours!  There is a gaiety to Marie-Louise Gay's art (it's okay to pun; Marie-Louise Gay does it too) that is like no other, and brings merriment to each story, even if it's about "Lies My Mother Told Me."

It's always a celebration when Marie-Louise Gay publishes a new book but this multi-story illustrated format is certainly unique and worthy of attention.  Moreover, because it's not a book that needs to be read in any order or all the way through in one sitting, I suspect Short Stories for Little Monsters will be appreciated by all readers and listeners, whether they be little monsters or not, who will continuously find nuggets of wisdom and whimsy throughout.
From Short Stories for Little Monsters 
by Marie-Louise Gay

No comments:

Post a Comment