Mellybean and the Giant Monster – written and illustrated by Mike White

   Mellybean and the Giant Monster – written and illustrated by Mike White, Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 9780593202548, 2020

Format: Hardcover (Graphic Novel)

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4.5

Genre: Fantasy

What did you like about the book? Melly has the energy of a young puppy (probably because she is one) but the cats who live with her would much rather nap. To distract her, the trio of felines get her to go outside where the excitable dog begins to dig a large hole, tossing dirt everywhere and leaving her companions alone to lounge. But there’s already a hole underground… a hole that leads to another world! When Melly falls through this strange portal, she arrives on top of a fuzzy, bunny-like creature the size of a skyscraper in a kingdom ruled by an oppressive king. This creature has problems of his own and doesn’t need an excitable friend but Melly might just be what everyone in the kingdom needs.

This is a funny and fast-paced story that offers up lots of laughs alongside a bighearted protagonist. The fantasy world Melly lands in is set in a classic medieval-era castle and forest and the antagonist is a power-hungry monarch, two elements that are often meshed together and will be a familiar starting point for readers. The illustration style is bold and colorful with a heavy focus on showing actions and emotions to move the story along.  Melly’s happiness, for example, is shown in a number of ways, often pairing a wagging tail with a huge smile.  The cast is composed of not just animals, but several humans of diverse races and body types which is always refreshing to see. The mix of cuteness and humor will draw in young readers while the strong morals and lessons of making a difference will appeal to caregivers.

The story (and large number “1” on the spine) leaves this open to sequels.  Melly is able to return home with the help of now-slightly-chagrined cats but the portal is ready for more trips and adventures.  Much like other long-running series, as more books become available (take up more shelf-space) readers will be drawn to the titles more easily. Here’s hoping the next book (due out in June 2021) is just as fun!

Anything you didn’t like about it? The ending was very rushed and didn’t allow a lot of time for characters to process their new roles. Younger readers (ages 6-8) may not mind but older readers may want to spend a little more time in this silly fantasy world before the story’s end.

To whom would you recommend this book? This is a great read for nearly all elementary students (grades 1 – 5).  Though the vocabulary might be a bit tough at times for younger students, the visuals help pull the story through and will get kids of many different ages laughing.  Older readers who are less likely to struggle with the text will still appreciate the humor and heart-warming story.  Hand this to fans of Dog Man and Narwhal and Jelly.

Who should buy this book? A first purchase for larger collections.

Where would you shelve it ? J Graphic Novels

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? You can pass.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Melissa McCleary, Pembroke Public Library, Pembroke, MA

Date of reviewNovember 24, 2020  

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