Leonardo, the Terrible Monster

by Mo Willems

Leonardo, a small furry creature with nublike horns, is a terrible monster. Terrible,... read more

Leonardo, a small furry creature with nublike horns, is a terrible monster. Terrible, that is, because he is totally incapable of scaring anyone. Compared to his monster comrades like Tony (who sports 1,642 teeth) and Eleanor (so huge that only her legs fit on the book’s page), Leonardo is a monster failure. Miserable at his incompetence, Leonardo concocts a sure-fire plan: He’ll find the “most scaredy-cat kid in the whole world . . . and scare the tuna salad out of him!” Meek-looking Sam, his chosen target, appears to be an ideal candidate. Just as planned, Leonardo launches a full-scale surprise assault and is delighted when Sam obligingly bursts into tears. His success is short-lived, however, when he discovers the real reason for Sam’s tears, told in a convincingly detailed torrent of words. It turns out that Sam’s brother stole his favorite action figure and broke it, and Sam’s day went downhill from there. Little Leonardo makes a hard choice and decides that “instead of being a terrible monster, he would become a wonderful friend.” A simple story of frustration and friendship makes a big impression through Mo Willem’s deceptively sophisticated artful design. He employs a subdued pastel palette, while the repeated appearance of Leonardo’s small figure on the wide open space of the oversized pages underscores the monster’s feelings of inadequacy. These are ultimately soothed when he realizes he has the power to choose how he will behave and embraces the idea of friendship. Highly Commended, 2006 Charlotte Zolotow Award (Ages 3–7)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2006

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