Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Great Monster Hunt (Norbert Landa)

Story Summary for The Great Monster Hunt:  
A peculiar noise—"pshh pshh!"—from under the bed wakes Duck up!   She is too frightened to peer underneath to see what is making the sound, so she runs for help.  Pig is outside fishing.  Duck tells him she hears a “pshh pshh, grrr!” sound under her bed.  Pig dashes off to find someone strong to help them.  When he spots bear in the forest, he tells him about the “pshh pshh, grrr, bang bang!” sound under Duck’s bed.  Bear decides they need to find someone loud enough to chase the creature away.  They seek out Wolf who suggests they find someone clever—Owl—after hearing the ominous “pshh pshh, grrr, bang bang! wham wham.”    Owl hears the sound with a “grrrrowl” added on.  He is quick to declare,  “Duck is in great danger!”  The group confers and decides that it must be a monster under the bed.  They bring various items—rope, a small net, pokey things—to catch the alleged monster.   When they arrive, all is quiet at Duck’s house.   They fear they are too late!  The door creaks open.  It is Duck!  The animals reveal that she is danger because there is a monster under her bed!  She asks how they know.  Pig answers, “Because it goes pshh pshh, grrr, bang bang, wham wham, grrrrrowl!”   The animals charge into the room!  As they cautiously creep toward the bed, they hear a “pshh pshh” sound.   They pull up the dust ruffle...and gasp…it’s just a snoring mouse! 

I sought out The Great Monster Hunt after enjoying Sorry! by the same author, Norbert Landa.   The charming pictures in both are from the illustrator, Tim Warnes.  The Great Monster Hunt is a suspenseful and humorous narrative, ideal for bedtime or classroom reading.   One of the fun aspects of this story is how a simple noise becomes exaggerated until it is nearly unrecognizable.  Each character adds an element to it until it sounds much worse than it is in reality—much like a game of telephone.   Ironically, it is the “wise” owl who is convinced that the sound comes from a monster which intensifies the situation even further.  Similarly, the “strong” bear brings kitchen utensils as weapons, demonstrating a more benevolent nature.  These ironies and character inconsistencies could be discussed as part of story’s characterization.  Elements of suspense can also be examined.  Ask students:  How does the author build up suspense?  Is it effective?  Finally, onomatopoeia should be pointed out and discussed briefly.  Children can brainstorm other examples or provide additional “scary” sounds. 

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