Today’s book review is for Ten Birds Meet a Monster, by Cybele Young, published by Kids Can Press. I received an electronic copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Author and illustrator Cybele Young delivers a visually engaging and playful counting book in Ten Birds Meet a Monster. The ten titular birds are playing with a pile of clothing and shoes, when they see a fearsome monster’s shadow looming in the closet. The first bird puts on a garment in an attempt to disguise himself as a scarier monster, but to no avail. Over the course of the book, one by one, the other birds join in, creating new and ever more elaborate monsters. But it’s the easily distracted tenth bird who finally conquers the monster and saves the day.
Young’s language is playful and inventive. She demonstrates her skill at selecting words throughout the text, particularly in the adjectives she uses to describe each bird. At the same time, she shows us that she can just as well create her own word when none already exists to do the job–her clever monster names employing amusing portmanteaus. This is a book that is fun to read aloud. There is a natural rhythm in the text that flows off the tongue. The story is engaging enough to appeal to a wide audience from pre-school to early elementary.
It’s Young’s pen and ink illustrations that bring the text to life, though. Each page features gorgeously rendered pictures, full of exquisite detail: from the plumage on the birds to the varying textile patterns. I loved the way that she was able to convey the birds’ alarm through expression and body language, while still using a fairly realistic art style.
The whole thing comes together in a beautiful book design. Even before I became a parent, there were times that I wanted to purchase picture books simply because they exhibited exceptional design. I’ve always been partial to a beautiful book. From front to back, Ten Birds Meet a Monster has been carefully designed. This attention to detail is what can separate a book that you’d like to read from a book that you’d like to own. And this is definitely a book I would be happy to own.
This title has earned 5 out of 5 stars. Counting books can get tedious–so if I have to read one, it should at least be beautiful and original. Young delivered. Engaging text, exceptional illustrations and excellent design… it’s got all the elements of a great picture book.
You can find more information about this book, including other reviews, at Goodreads.