CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 11. . . .November 13, 2015
Myles and the Monster Outside. (Weird Stories Gone Wrong, Book 2).
Philippa Dowding. Illustrated by Shawna Daigle.
Toronto, ON: Dundurn, 2015.
133 pp., trade pbk., pdf & epub, $9.99 (pbk.), $9.99 (pdf), $8.99 (epub).
ISBN 978-1-4597-2943-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4597-2944-5 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4597-2945-2 (epub).
Grades 5-6 / Ages 10-11.
Review by Daphne Hamilton-Nagorsen.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
The monster was fast. It drifted across the field. The huge shape floated and stopped behind Bea, who was intently watching the sunrise. Myles watched in horror as the monster grew and grew behind her, until it was taller than the trees. Smoky arms reached out, red eyes gleamed. The monster of mist, of fog, and of fear slowly curled its wispy arms out toward Bea. The red eyes stared right at Myles....
Myles and his family are moving to a new home. He doesn’t want to move and has been trapped in the car for four days with his mother, brother and sister. On the final night of their drive, it is pouring rain. Myles sees a beautiful golden-coloured dog by the road and finds out it is a 100-year-old ghost. He sees a monster with red eyes following them along the road. Myles is certain that he and his family will never make it to their new home.
Myles and the Monster Outside is the second book in Philippa Dowding’s series, “Weird Stories Gone Wrong”, with Jake and the Giant Hand being the first. The series is based on tall tales and the idea that one person’s truth is another person’s lie, as well as the concept that many tall tales do have a small amount of truth at their centre.
As with the first book in the series, there are two different tales woven into the overall story. One is a typical urban legend while the other seems like a child’s overactive imagination. The first tale is about a man who goes out looking for his lost dog and never returns. Eventually, the man’s ghost haunts the area, still looking for his dog and asking people if they have seen the dog. The second tale features a misty monster with red eyes that only Myles can see and which appears to be following the family. The reader experiences the second tale along with Myles, rather than the tale being narrated first. How much truth is there in either tale? That depends on what the reader believes.
The “Weird Stories Gone Wrong” series is a good series for reluctant readers. They are the book equivalent of a tame campfire ghost story, with vivid imagery, simple presentation and fast pacing. That Myles and the Monster Outside takes place over just one night keeps the plot and action moving along. There is little character development due to the pace, but the reader does get to know the main character well. The other characters are more superficial and stereotypical (such as the annoying little brother), but they all have their roles to play in the story.
“Weird Stories Gone Wrong” series is not meant to be a horror series. Myles and the Monster Outside has been woven out of tall tales and should be treated as a tall tale, not as a horror story. While it is not a particularly creepy story, the look at how fear can manifest itself to a person and how someone can face their fears is interesting.
Daphne Hamilton-Nagorsen is a graduate of the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.
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