Award winning author Giles Paley-Phillips has created an endearing little girl who is unable to sleep as the wind howls outside her window. Her fears are justified when a big, hairy arm snatches her from her bed and whisks her into the night.
Little Tamara's nocturnal adventure takes her to a monster's ball at the village hall, where all sorts of grizzly creatures are dancing the night away, including a cackling old witch and a breakdancing werewolf.
The first half of the story may not be to every parent's taste, prompting many a child to cower in recognition of their fear of night-time grizzlies, but there's no escaping the humour, and the book manages to be educational too, with its message that a person doesn't have to be pretty to be popular and loveable.
If you're looking for a picture book to take younger children by surprise and teach them that beauty lives in the eye of the beholder, this is it. Paley-Phillip's books are so colourful and animated that I sometimes feel as if I'm watching a 3D movie. Targeted to readers age 4 to 8, the bright, quirky illustrations by Gabriele Antonini add to the fun of the rhyming text and counteract the words being taken too seriously.
The creatures may have big noses, googly eyes and missing teeth, but their beauty shines in their generosity and humour. The cackling old witch surprises Tamara with a slimy cake gift and before the night is over Tamara has danced with everyone and received an invitation to return next year. The message that I hear in this book is one of friendship, caring and sharing - now that's what I call a good message!
Tamara Small and the Monsters' Ball is simple and entertaining with enough humour to stop it being uncomfortably scary. The creatures are playful and funny and the finale is perfect, with little Tamara sleeping peacefully, undisturbed by her night-time adventure. A welcome addition to our library of favourite books, to be read time and again.