Friday, May 4, 2018

PPBF: What Makes A Monster?

And now on to today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick*

What Makes A Monster?, by Jess Keating
What Makes A Monster?
Discovering the World's Scariest Creatures

Written Jess Keating
Illustrated by David DeGrand

Alfred A. Knopf, Penguin Random House, 2017
Ages 6-9, 48 pp

Animals, Science, Fears

Don't high-five the AYE-AYE. Also known as "the demon primate," the aye-aye has a dangerous tool on hand. Or rather, its hand is a dangerous too.

Like its predecessor, Pink Is For Blobfish, this book highlights animals by theme, with large photos, detailed scientific facts, and light-hearted trivia. What Makes A Monster? examines dangerous and scary creatures, from Komodo dragons to prairie dogs. The author carefully chooses animals we think of as scary and others we think of as cute or harmless. She includes varied back matter to make her points that we are usually afraid of what we don't understand and many of our animal-related fears are unfounded.

What I Love:
While not as clever as the previous book, I think WMAM? will engage readers because of the sensational nature of both the material and the format. Non-fiction books which present scientific facts in a humorous way are always popular. While I was disappointed by the lack of variety in the animals and thought the message was sometimes heavy-handed, I learned plenty of new things and "remembered" some animal facts I had forgotten. And kids will love this. That's what counts, after all.

You could buy actual edible Jellyfish,
but I prefer this pita version from JDaniel'sMom
1. For more than you ever thought you could know about the author AND artist behind What Makes a Monster, visit Design of the Picture Book's entertaining interview. And for more zaniness, read Colby Sharp's 5, 4, 3, 2, 1-sentence interview with Jess Keating about Pink Is For Blobfish.

2. CelebratePicture Books has done a beautiful Q & A with the author an and in-depth look at her books and process.

3. Layers of Learning posted a bird anatomy worksheet, and Enchanted Learning has one for ant parts: perfect to go along with the Greater Honeyglide and the Zombie Ant found in the book.

4. You'll find all the picture book nominees for the CYBILS Award on Perfect Picture Book Fridays. Here's what you may have missed so far:
Hatching Chicks in Room 6
Once Upon A Jungle
Shark Lady
Dazzle Ships

5. I'm always disappointed when the photographers whose work goes into a picture book are forgotten. Get inspired by 13 year-old Josiah Launstein, nature photographer on Shutterbug. Then take these tips from Mother Nature Network and try your hand and capturing some critters on film.

6. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Andrea
Reviewed by Joanne

Reviewed by Julie
Reviewed by Joanna

Reviewed by Andrea
Reviewed by Sue

Reviewed by Stacy
Reviewed by Joanna

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for Friday, May 4, 2018 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

*As a CYBILS second round judge, I was asked to review a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.


  1. Joanne, who wouldn't be enthralled by that face and want to know HOW it is s monster. Kids who love the unusual and bizarre animals are going to adore this book. Great choice.

    1. I think the author is really onto something with this series. Can't wait to see what she comes up with next. She is one busy lady!

  2. Kids in our school will love this one. They already keep the Pink is for Blobfish in constant circulation. Have to put it on our acquisition list. Thanks for featuring!

    It's really tough, I think, to make sequels as fabulous as the first. Really, really tough.

    1. I think you're right about the sequels, but I'll keep reading them as long as Jess keeps writing them! Thanks.

  3. I love Aye Ayes. I saw a couple of of my times working in Madagascar! You can never get enough books like this for an elementary school library.

    1. Adults forget sometimes how kids will devour non-fiction, especially if it's presented in a memorable way like these. Thanks.

  4. Got to love that cover. I know kids will. Scary and adorable at the same time.

    1. Then I think the author and designer have made their point! Scary is not always scary. And kids loved to get goosebumps anyway. Thanks for reading.

  5. Okay that gave me goosebumps Thanks for sharing.

    1. LOL Well, as long as you don't have nightmares, I guess we're okay. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. this looks fun! After all, what makes a "monster" depends on our perspective.

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