Friday, May 13, 2011

Garbage! Monster! Burp! (Tom Watson)

Overall: 3.3   ҉
  • Content: 4/5
  • Originality: 4/5
  • Language: 2/5
  • Illustrations: 3/5
Garbage! Monster! Burp! by Tom Watson

A monster at the bottom of a hill eats all of the garbage generated by the town on top of the hill. This provides two important benefits: The monster is happy with plenty to eat and the town stays nice and clean. Unfortunately, as the town grows, so does the amount of garbage the monster must consume. He gets bigger - and he starts burping. This is, as you can probably guess, a bit unsightly and stinky. In the end, the kids figure out how to solve the problem - despite the nasty mayor's doubts and objections.
Children's Literature
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With all of the recent fixation on "green living", it is unsurprising that children's literature should start to reflect this trend, if only because the youth are the ones who will live in the world we create. The monster at the bottom of the hill makes the repercussions of our actions easier for younger minds to grasp.

The author clearly has an agenda to push as expansion and possible overpopulation drive garbage production upwards, forcing the monster to consume more and more to the point of physical illness. In spite of the undisguised environmentalist bent, however, the story is delivered in a lighthearted fashion that is appropriate for a picture book, and the use of the monster was a clever move as "Mother Earth" is a difficult concept for children to comprehend.

The illustrations are fun and colorful, and they show up well on a black-and-white device like the Kindle. Even so, some of the lines are crudely done, particularly the monster and the people. Similarly inconsistent is the quality of the writing: while most of the words flow easily and rhythmically off of the tongue, others gave me pause while reading the story aloud due to a sudden change in beat. Try as I might to compensate for these departures, I am still unable to devise a way in which to make some of these stanzas work; it is as if I am reading from a different story entirely.

As a free book, Garbage! Monster! Burp! is certainly worth a second look. Parents can appreciate the message it delivers, while children will enjoy a story in which children and their favorite monster save the day.


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