Skip to main content

The Messy Monster Book by Rachel Ortas


The Messy Monster Book by Rachel Ortas had me with the title alone. Even better, I discovered that Ortas is the co-creator and Creative Director of OKIDO, a very cool art and science magazine for kids. Follow the link above and you can see a sample of the bi-monthly, which is packed with activities (experiments, songs, recipes and crafts using cutouts from the magazine and found items) and stories for creative kids and parents and, of course, Ortas's fantastic illustration style and mascot Messy Monster, who you can see in super cute animated form in a video at the end of this review.

The Messy Monster Book is interactive, with pages to color and even cut out, but it is also a story with a narrative. Messy Monster and (human) friends Zoe and Felix invite readers to use their imagination and jump right into the book by adding a self-portriat to the page, as seen below.


Platoo, Doodle Cat and Cutty Cat guide readers through the book with Platoo, who says, "Together we are going to think about things ... lots of things," poses thoughtful questions, wondering if it is lying to tell imaginary stories and noting that sometimes something that looks ugly to one person looks beautiful to someone else.

Messy Monster, Zoe and Felix take a swim to Kiri Kiri Island where they learn that the inhabitants can't dream anymore - they only have nightmares. And now they are exhausted. To this, Platoo says, "We are all scared of something. Sometimes being scared is a good thing because it protect us from danger. But sometimes we are scared of things that can't even hurt us. We are just scared of being scared!" Like the illustrations in The Messy Monster Book, the story is a curious mix of playful oddness, retro-cute,  surprising thoughtfulness.

Messy and his mates travel to the planet of the Dreaming Mountains where readers have the opportunity to draw their nightmares and their dreams and shadows chase away the muse and the musical cat falls asleep and the children run wild. There is a baobab tree as well. 
But everything is right in the end and it's a lot of fun getting there. The Messy Monster Book is the kind of book that makes a perfect gift, it's so out of the ordinary. Now I just need to get my hands on a copy of OKIDO!




Source: Review Copy

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers remains the most read post on my blog since I wrote it in 2012. Because of this, I have cleaned up this post, tightened the writing and added in any pertinent information that has come about since it originally ran. When I first started books4yourkids.com in August of 2008, I was scrambling for content, finding my purpose and my voice and not always doing my best writing. How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers was one of the first articles I wrote and, as a bookseller and a book reviewer, and now as an elementary school librarian where I have gone from working with kids reading well beyond their grade level to kids reading well below, this philosophy remains my organizing principle and central focus when reading and recommending books to parents and children. 

In the interest of my mission and the attention this article continues to receive, I have updated and expanded this article and included a guide to using …