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Marie-Francine Hebert
Illustrated by Phillippe Germain

Toronto, Second Story Press, 1990. 51pp, paper, $5.95, ISBN 0-929005-12-0
Also available in French as Monstre dans les cereales. CIP

Grades 2 to 6/Ages 7 to 11
Reviewed by Patricia Fry.

Volume 18 Number 6
1990 November

This novelette is plot-heavy and light on description; as such, it will appeal to a reluctant reader who requires high -interest, low- vocabulary material. It will also have value in its original French for inclusion in one of the many French Immersion pro­grammes available.

In a nutshell, the plot revolves around the age-old parent-child di­lemma. In this case. Poppy is not looking forward to spending two days with her father while her mother accompanies her younger brother to the hospital, where he will have his tonsils removed. She and her father do not get along. Poppy objects to the fact that Dad gets priority in selecting television channels, his bedroom is bigger than hers, and he turns everything she says into a joke. Poppy's age and school grade are never revealed; this gives the book more appeal because more readers will be able to identify with her.

The action starts as Mom and little brother are leaving when the monster on Poppy's cereal box winks at her. Soon, the monster assumes three-dimensional proportions in Poppy's presence only and is very sympathetic to her dilemma. He listens to her complaints, including her wish that her father would just disappear, and then promises to do something about her problem.

The next day, things are noticeably different around Poppy's house. For starters, there are only children's shows on the television. As the monster works his way through her list of complaints, Poppy's fantasy turns into a nightmare. Will the monster really make her father disappear?

Philippe Germain's black-and-white illustrations are an added attraction. The humorous sketches focus on the characters and flesh out the thin word descriptions for the reader. On average, there is one illustration per page. Again, these drawings will encourage the reluctant reader to persevere.

Recommended for grades 2 to 5 (grades 3 to 6 French Immersion).

Patricia Fry, Port Credit, Ont.
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