3 out of 4 stars
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Monster Fables is a short graphic novel by John Price. The target audience appears to be readers in the middle-grade range. At the beginning of the story, a wizard and his daughter are out walking when three hoodlums sneak onto the property and shoot poison berries from slingshots. The daughter is struck by the poison berries, becomes ill, and turns into a monster.
The wizard seeks assistance from his adult niece, asking her to attend to teaching duties at the castle. A variety of misbehaved characters are introduced throughout the story. These miscreants appear in the form of monsters, but when they repent their bad behavior, they turn back into human children.
Overall, I enjoyed the story, which is told in a rhyming style. My favorite part of the book was the illustrations. The illustrations were drawn in colored pencil, which is one of my favorite mediums. The text is easy to read against the background.
The story has a clear, positive message and is suitable for kids in the target audience. It contains no profanity and no sexual situations. There is mild fantasy violence, but nothing that most kids would find upsetting. The monsters are amusing rather than frightening. Parents can feel comfortable giving this book to middle-grade readers or reading it to younger kids.
I believe that the book was professionally edited. I did not find any errors in the text. The rhyme scheme was not rigorously consistent, but the narrative was clever and easy to understand. My only issue with the story was that the ending felt a bit haphazard as if the creator couldn’t quite decide what to do with the narrative at that point.
I am impressed with the creator’s willingness to take on the task of not only writing but illustrating the book himself. This is no mean feat, and most people do not have the patience or the talent to take on such a task. It felt to me like the creator may have become frustrated toward the end of the process and wanted to wrap things up.
I give Monster Fables three out of four stars. It tells an interesting tale with an important message and the illustrations are clever and appealing, but the execution at the end of the story needs some polishing. If the creator were to slightly rework the finale and to check the rhyme scheme for consistency, this could become a four-star book.
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