Lynn: OK – let me just get this out of the way. Monster on the Hill (Top Shelf 2013) is MONSTROUSLY fun reading. Harrell’s England of 1867 features towns that each have their own monsters. The monsters are a source of town pride and townspeople visit other towns, comparing monsters. Unfortunately the residents of Stoker-On-Avon are sadly disappointed in their monster, Rayburn. It seems that Rayburn is depressed and suffering a crisis of confidence. He hasn’t attacked the town in 536 straight days so the town fathers have called in an expert to put Rayburn to rights. Charles Wilkie, Man of Science, assisted by Timothy the street urchin, recommends a road trip to visit and consult with other monsters. While they are away visiting the fearsome Tentaculor, otherwise known as Noodles, a REALLY nasty monster, Murk, attacks and practically destroys the town. Rayburn has to face his fears and take charge.
I loved Harrell’s sweet funny story and I think kids will too. The colorful comic-style illustrations are wonderfully drawn and I like the use of a few large panels on most pages. The book is so inviting and accessible and once started, can’t be put down. The humor works on lots of levels making this a book that will entertain a wide range of ages.
Harrell wrote and drew a daily comic strip, Big Top, for five years and now draws the cartoon Adam@Home that appears in 140 papers. All that experience shows up here, making this book a real treat for young readers – and everyone in their families as well. Here’s hoping there are more adventures ahead for this charming crew of characters!