I had a chance to review My Monster Burrufu by Alberto Corral and Alessandra Sorrentino. It’s a cute and unique kids storybook put out by a new independent publisher, Petite Grande Idée.
The first thing I noticed upon arrival? This book is beautiful! I love the look of it, the paper they used, and the awesome illustrations. This is a well made book. Keeping in mind this was produced by a small independent company, I’m really impressed! It’s just a softcover paperback sort of thing, but the binding seems well made and it’s printed on thick creamy paper (yeah I’m a bit of a book snob, and I’m a sucker for nice paper). It’s a chapter book aimed at 8 to 12 year olds. The book is 85 pages long, broken into 10 easily digestible chapters, with numerous illustrations throughout.
|Here’s the book alongside a couple of lovely promotional images they sent me.|
So it’s physically a nice book, but what about the content? Well, where this book really shines is in Alessandra Sorrentino’s illustrations. They are simply fantastic! My only complaint is that they are in black & white. A deluxe full-colour version of this book would be a treat! They also played with the fonts a bit throughout the book, making the text small when Olivia is whispering, and extra large when she’s yelling for example, which I thought was a lovely touch.
As far as the story, I have mixed feelings. The suggested age range of 8 to 12 seems spot on. I however was reading the book to my four year old. I didn’t think it would be much of an issue as we’ve been reading chapter books for a while now at bedtime. Having just finished The Hobbit we started on My Monster Burrufu. At first I thought the book was simply adorable. I loved the plotline of a little girl befriending a novel writing, cookie munching, monster who lives in a secret attic within a rambling old house. The young girl, Olivia, was cute and totally believable. Overall the characterizations were strong all around. Cute book.
Then halfway through the flavour of the tale took a turn. I went out of town for the weekend, which means my husband had bedtime story reading duties for a few days. He read a couple of chapters to G while I was gone, but she had him carefully bookmark our spot so that she could re-read them with me when I got back. “Cute book, eh?” I said to my husband as he showed me the marked spot, so I could resume story-reading. He looked at me like I was crazy, “Um, not really. I definitely wouldn’t call it cute.” What the heck?
I started reading, and quickly understood where my husband, who hadn’t read the first half of the book, was coming from. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but basically things took a monster movie Godzilla/King Kong sort of twist. Suddenly there were tanks, guns, scientists and grumpy generals to contend with. So, not as cute, no. And here is were the age-appropriateness also came into play…. It’s not that the book was too violent per-say, it’s just that these things were so far outside of my four year old’s realm of experience that she had a hard time following and understanding the story from this point forward.
Even aside from the whole age-appropriate violence/confusion factor, I just personally liked the flavour of the first half of the book better. It didn’t end up going where I thought it was leading, and I found it a tiny bit disappointing. It’s not bad by a long shot, just not quite what I was expecting. In the end, my daughter still enjoyed the book and I have set it aside for her to read again once she’s older.
|The book it peppered throughout with illustrations both large and small.|
Now, perhaps it was because of the lovely illustrations, but I found the story very easy to visualize, and the whole thing felt like an animated movie brought to you by Dreamworks or Pixar. Which isn’t surprising considering that the writer, Alberto Corral, works at Dreamworks Animation, and the creator of those wonderful drawings, Alesandra Sorrentino, is also an animator, storyboard artist and illustrator.
Overall, I think this would make a great choice for the suggested age range of 8-12 year olds. My Monster Burrufu is a touching story, with firm moral grounding, housed in a physically lovely book. Alberto Corral’s writing is solid and the illustrations by Alesandra Sorrentino are superb, simply not to be missed. It’s reasonably priced, and is available for sale on Amazon ($9.85) and Amazon.ca ($11.14).
Disclosure: The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or by the free product provided.