The Monsterator

by Keith Graves (Author)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

When he entered a dusty costume store,

one that he hadn't seen before

He got what he'd bargained for . . . and more.

Enter the Monsterator if you dare.

Put a coin in the slot . . . but beware!

Join Master Edgar Dreadbury as he discovers the Monsterator, a machine that changes people into monsters in this spooky Halloween adventure from Keith Graves.

A Neal Porter Book


Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review

A been-there-done-that just-try-to-impress-me boy gets his wish to “be something screamingly scary. / Something fanged and foul and terribly hairy!”

“Master Edgar Dreadbury found Halloween a bore.” He’s not interested in costumes—he seeks transformation. A mysterious machine called the MONSTERATOR—a cross between a sideshow amusement and a steampunk invention—beckons. After much rumbling, clanging and hissing, the machine disgorges Edgar, now a fearsome roaring monster. With horns, grimacing purple face, orange brows and green reptilian hands, feet and tail, he is a frightening sight—and he loves it. Although he tries to find the machine after Halloween to reverse the transformation, he is unsuccessful. Happily, he soon grows “fond of his freakish new features” and to “[relish] his role as a monstrous creature.” Graves dares here to explore a child’s dark side, and the result is a refreshingly original yet wondrously creepy tale. Superb for reading aloud, the story also poses topics for discussion. Why does he want to frighten everyone so much? Should you be careful about what you wish for? Readers throughout the book are rewarded with moody gray scenes punctuated with bright hues to draw focus to the machine or the monster, greatly enhancing this page-turner. Though it’s already eerily impressive with its elegant design, an added treat is a paper version of a monsterator with a flippable split-page novelty element at the book’s end. A true, monstrous success! (Picture book. 5-9)

Copyright 2014 Kirkus Reviews, LLC Used with permission

Publishers Weekly

Graves (Chicken Big) returns with an offering that's part story, part activity book. It opens with a painting of Master Edgar Dreadbury, a boy in a red blazer who glowers from an oversize wing chair as he weighs and rejects the usual Halloween costume possibilities ("A zombie? A clown? A ventriloquist's dummy?/ He frowned and complained, They're all equally crummy"). In a deserted storefront, Edgar finds the Monsterator, a vending machine with a circus-tent top and a filigreed, steampunk-style exterior. A dime in the slot and the sizzling, Frankensteinian monsteration begins: "When the machine finally quit, / Edgar crashed through the door./ He banged on his chest with his fists and roared." With his new horns, fangs, and dragon tail, Edgar can do some world-class scaring. The final pages consist of split monster spreads that let readers "monsterate" Edgar by mixing parts from fly, robot, skeleton, and other creatures. Despite the gray fog that hovers over everything, Graves's acrylic paintings are funnier than they are scary, full of guaranteed child-pleasers like Edgar chowing down on spaghetti and meatballs out of a dog dish. Ages 7-10. (Aug.)

Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

K-Gr 2—In this fiendishly fun novelty book, Master Edgar Dreadbury is suitably bored by typical Halloween attire and chooses to bypass his usual costume store for The Monster Shop, which he had not previously noticed. There, he finds a contraption called the "MONSTERATOR," and with a nonchalant "Oh, why not," the child drops his dime into the old fashioned-looking machine and is suddenly transformed into a monster. With his fearsome roar, sharp fangs, pointy horns, and reptilian feet, Edgar joyfully scares everyone in his path. "He horrified the tall./He terrified the small./Edgar Dreadbury frightened them all." It's all well and good on Halloween night, but when Edgar grows tired of being a monster, he discovers that the shop has disappeared and he is destined to remain one forever. The simple plot is heightened by a humorous rhyming text (including many monsterly sound effects) and large, kid-friendly, digitally enhanced acrylic illustrations that are more funny than creepy. But the true pleasure and surprise of this book are the final pages that serve as a flip toy, allowing youngsters to "monsterate" Edgar themselves by selecting from several layers of monstrous heads, faces, bodies, and feet. Sturdy pages will survive dozens of flips and give kids lots of incentive to create their own Halloween costume mash-ups. Purchase multiples for lots of horrific holiday fun!—Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library

Copyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Kids will likely have a ball monsterating Edgar themselves." —Booklist

"A five-creature partitioned flipbook creatively extends the humorous tale so readers can "monsterate" Edgar themselves" —The Horn Book

"In this fiendishly fun novelty book, Master Edgar Dreadbury is suitably bored by typical Halloween attire and chooses to bypass his usual costume store the The Monster Shop . . . The true pleasure and surprise of this book are the final pages that serve as a flip toy, allowing youngsters to "monsterate" Edgar themselves." —School Library Journal

"*Graves dares here to explore a child's dark side, and the result is a refreshingly original yet wondrously creepy tale . . . A true monstrous success." —Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

"Despite the gray fog that hovers over everything, Graves's acrylic paintings are funnier than they are scary, full of guaranteed child-pleasers like Edgar chowing down on spaghetti and meatballs out of a dog dish." —Publishers Weekly

Keith Graves
Keith Graves is Professor Emeritus at the Chicken School in Austin, Texas, where he teaches courses in chicken history. Strangely, he has the same name as another guy who wrote the book Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance, as well as some other ridiculous books, but we doubt he's the same guy
Classification
Fiction
ISBN-13
9781596438552
Lexile Measure
-
Guided Reading Level
0
Publication date
August 20, 2014
Series
-

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