CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 31. . . .April 17, 2015
Jamie and the Monster Bookroom.
Kerry Simpson with Jamie Simpson. Illustrated by Erica Folnovic.
Regina, SK: DriverWorks Ink, 2014.
32 pp., pbk., $13.95.
Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.
Review Teresa Iaizzo.
It was obvious from the smell and the old paint on the walls that this room did not get many visitors. But Jamie became intrigued as she saw shelves and shelves of books of all colours and sizes.
The books were scattered, as though strewn on the shelf without any thought at all. The books looked lonely – some shelves were only occupied by one or two books and most were lying on their side and looking sleepy.
“Why,” she thought, “would the library keep all of these books in the back room where no one can see them?”
Jamie and the Monster Bookroom is a charming picture book written by mother and daughter duo Kerry and Jamie Simpson. The story follows little Jamie and her adventures in the literary world with an interesting tour guide amidst a dark room filled with unused library books.
The protagonist, Jamie, is a precocious little girl who loves to read and loves the library even more. The story begins one Saturday afternoon when Jamie and her mother visit their local library. As Jamie is wandering around to find the perfect book, she stumbles upon the only part of the library that scares her, the Monster Bookroom, a room that is dusty and smelly and always empty.
Today, however, Jamie decides to be brave and enter the room. Once inside, Jamie discovers that the Monster Bookroom houses unused library books. As she continues to wander about, she hears a voice whispering, “Jamie, take me. Take me.” To her great surprise Jamie uncovers a lonely book that can speak. As Jamie flips through its unused pages, she hears another voice, that of a furry purple creature Aooga. Aooga is a tour guide of sorts who takes children on adventures inside books themselves. Jamie’s tour guide pulls her inside the lonely book to go on her very own adventure, one where she meets dinosaurs and elephants, and gets totally immersed in the story.
All good things must come to an end as Jamie must return to reality, but not before checking out the lonely book to continue her adventures at home. The story ends with other children embracing Jamie’s courage and seeking out their own adventures in the Monster Bookroom.
Ultimately, I like the idea behind the whole book. Having children rediscover lost and unused library books through an adventurous tour guide is quite imaginative and will appeal to a wide variety of readers. However, the execution, on the other hand, was poor. The language and style of the book are very pedantic and not as child friendly as I would have liked. At times, I felt the story dragged on with no apparent motive and lacked the whimsy of so many great children’s stories. The illustrations I found to be totally devoid of any imagination. The colours were dull while the illustrations, themselves, fell flat. In fact, they were completely incongruous with the fantasy-like narrative of the story. In the end, I recommend this book, but with some serious reservations.
Recommended with Reservations.
Teresa Iaizzo is a Senior Library Assistant with the Toronto Public Library.
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