Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Derriere Duds

There are some words, whether you shout them from the rooftop or whisper them so quietly only a dog could hear, which will trigger a supreme case of giggles if not outright guffaws.  These words do not need to be said in any formal setting such as storytime when the word is part of a title or used within the narrative.  You can walk by a group of younger guys and gals quietly working and say the word as you pass.  As soon as they hear it, they will stop and ask a question hardly able to contain their mirth.

One such word which comes to mind is underwear.  In Monster's New Undies (Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., June 27, 2017) written by Samantha Berger with illustrations by Tad Carpenter I do believe laughter will fill the air as soon as the cover is shown and won't stop until after the final word is read.  An entire book about underwear?!  Be still my storytime heart.

Of all days I dread, 
not one can compare
to the day that we shop
for NEW underwear.

This monster detests shopping for underwear to the degree he is willing to have small, old, and torn undies.  He is even fine with wearing nothing.  He has one pair left, his favorite pair.

Then the worst thing possible happens.  Using them like a sling shot, his final favorite pair falls into pieces.  At this point he realizes wearing nothing is a tad bit chilly and a wee bit embarrassing.

So without further ado, it's off to find another pair with mom at Undie World.  Yes, readers, there is an entire store dedicated to underwear.  There are pairs patterned in everything under the sun and under the sea.  There are more sizes than this monster thought possible but nothing, not a single one, is to his liking.  One monster, his mom and a store clerk are discouraged...totally.

Then his monster eyes spy what might be a miracle tucked nearly out of sight.  Could it be?  Monsters gather.  Monsters gasp.  Breaths are held as an inspection and a moment's reflection reveal a truth.

Humor fills Samantha Berger's heart.  As she writes it spills to the page, bringing merriment to this story.  Within every paragraph she supplies a final rhyming word in lines two and four.  The mix of rhythm and comedy elevates the reader's experience.

Each reader can identify with the monster as he anguishes over the loss of a favorite article of clothing.  Experience tells the monster (us) shopping to find something equally beloved is fruitless.  Here is another sample passage.

THESE are my undies!
A sweet work of art!
My undies!
They just fell apart!

Readers will enjoy the dust jacket and book case created by Tad Carpenter.  Using a limited color palette throughout this title we are introduced to the colors on the dust jacket first; lime green, red, blue, black and white.  Plainly we can see Monster is happier than happy with the underwear he is wearing.  To the left, on the back, everything is identical except we are viewing it from the back of Monster.

The book case is done in the blue hue.  Monster is pictured identical to the dust jacket on both the front and back but he and his shadow are alone.  On the opening endpapers a red canvas features all kinds of underwear in blue and white.  There are white stars placed among the underwear.  The closing endpapers have the blue as a background shade.  Monster and company are showcased in red and white.  Without revealing more, you will understand the significance of the characters highlighted once the title is read.

On the verso and title pages Monster is wearing a bathrobe on the right carrying a blue ducky as drops of water fall from his body.  On the left is an old-fashioned bathtub with puddles of water on the floor.  Most of the illustrations rendered by Tad Carpenter span two pages followed by two (or four) single-page pictures.

Monster's expressions, large, wide eyes and two-tooth grins and grimaces are true crowd-pleasers.  Notice the details included by Tad Carpenter.  On his dresser Monster has a lamp with a skull for a base.  At Undie World there is a 50% sign next to the door.  The logo for Undie World looks surprisingly similar to Monster's favorite style.

One of my many favorite pictures spread across two pages.  The canvas is black, a textured black, based upon the illustrator's technique.  Across the top, on either side of the gutter, are four pairs of blue and white underwear.  Beneath them are another four pairs.  Monster's head is larger, closer to us.  It takes up a little more than a third of the bottom.  His huge eyes stare at us on either side of the gutter.  His horns are upright.  He is definitely frowning.

Expect laughter, lots of laughter, when you read Monster's New Undies written by Samantha Berger with illustrations by Tad Carpenter quietly to yourself, one-on-one or to a group.  It's packed with fun.  It would pair nicely with Ballet Cat Dance! Dance! Underpants! by Bob Shea.  

To learn more about Samantha Berger and Tad Carpenter and their other work, please follow the links attached to their names to access their websites.  Both have accounts on Instagram too.  Scholastic in Canada has two interior pages to read and view.  Teacher librarian Travis Jonker who blogs at School Library Journal, 100 Scope Notes, included this title in his 10 to Note: Summer Preview 2017.

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