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The Monster Books

Posted by Big Boo on April 28th, 2010

monster ellen blance ann cook quentin blakeBoth Li’l Boo (my wife) and myself have fond memories of the Monster books from our early childhood. Like the books featuring Roger Red Hat and company these books were a series which many primary schools had for helping teach children to read. They were written in the early seventies, but schools being schools they were still to be found in libraries well into the eighties, and probably beyond.

The books were written by Ellen Blance and Ann Cook, who drafted in the help of children to make the text read as if a child had written it. Illustrations were provided by Quentin Blake, who’s sketchy style suited the books brilliantly. From the illustrations Monster was vaguely humanoid, but must have been at least eight feet tall. As if that wasn’t enough to make him stand out in the crowd, he was also a pretty shade of purple.

From day to day monster didn’t wear clothes, or if he did it was a skin tight lycra jumpsuit. In common with many cartoon characters who generally wear nothing, he did wear clothes to aid with the storytelling. For example, in one book he goes for a bike ride, and wears a T-Shirt and shorts to do so.

Monster lived in a house with his friend, a little boy who was always just referred to as the Little Boy. The pair got up to all kinds of adventures as the Little Boy taught Monster about the world, and Monster helped people out with the aid of his magic umbrella, which could turn into different objects appropriate to the story.

At first the big purple Monster was all alone in a human world, befriended only by the Little Boy and other children. Before long though, a “girlfriend” for Monster was created, named simply Lady Monster. She looked almost exactly the same as Monster, except she had long hair (Monster was bald) and she normally wore a dress – at least she had grasped the concept of covering yourself up! Unsurprisingly Lady Monster also had a little child friend, who was called… The Little Girl. No prizes for guessing that one!

A few years back we tried tracking down some copies of the Monster books, which we managed to do both in the UK and the US. We ended up with some duplicates of a couple of the stories, and in particular one book (Monster and the Toy Sale) was interesting to see the difference in the two versions. The UK version mentions a “traffic policeman” whilst the US version uses the phrase “traffic cop”. I guess UK book publishers were a bit more prim and proper back then than they are now!

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