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Like one of Sendak's wild things embarking on a journey of its own, the hairy monster in this boiled-down quest tale abruptly sets out for parts unknown.
Being a featureless, tree-sized black silhouette with two yellow eyes, the solitary Beast looks menacing but leads a peaceable existence in a remote forest. Responding to a sudden yen for companionship, he departs one day on a long trek over land and under sea—arriving at last, after many adventures, in a city whose residents quickly get over their initial terror to make him welcome as a gardener in the local park. Being lonely still, he broadcasts public appeals in hopes of reaching others of his kind, then, when that gets no response, sets out again, retracing his original route. Using what looks like paint and cut-paper collage, Judge creates open settings in artfully contrasted colors and textures that give his central figure both a strong visual presence and an enigmatic air carrying hints of deeper meanings. Or maybe not: The Beast arrives back in his garden to find that other Beasts have gathered from all over the world to throw him a surprise party and to stick around forever after for nightly wild rumpuses.
The story could use a little more internal logic, but Judge's art stands out.(Picture book. 6-8)
Posted September 18, 2013
This cute story reminds us that we all need somebody to be our friend. Even beasts do not want to be alone in this big old world and loneliness is not a happy emotion to experience. Have you ever felt lonely? In need of someone to hang out with and share yourself and life with? Well this beast felt exactly the same way.
This particular kind of beast I am talking about is extremely rare - in fact there is only one in each country of the world and you know what? They are unaware that others exist so they spend their time in solitaire tending to their gardens, drinking tea (alone), reading books (I particularly like that), experiencing the elements around them and enjoying the fruit (cakes, pies, cupcakes etc.) of their baking frenzies.
This story centres around one such nameless beast who finally succumbs to his loneliness and sets out to find some friends to keep him company. His rigorous adventures leads him over land and sea (and underneath the sea) until he finds himself in a great big bustling city, full of crowds of people. He greets them with big "Hello" but quickly the people scatter and run for their safety. The people give into their curiosity and slowly come back and connect with this big, black, gentle giant. They become so enamoured by him they decide to let him live in their park so he can stay close by. He immediately starts tending to the park like it was his very own garden and he soon becomes a tourist attraction drawing in many, many visitors. But the truth is....he's still very, very lonely. He uses his celebrity status to go on talk radio shows, have interviews with the local newspapers and do guest appearances on t.v., telling the story of his many adventures and his his longing to find friends just like him. His news travels worldwide (thanks to social media) and word gets out regarding his plight and his search for others that may belong to his species. He is amazingly popular and well-liked, but the truth is...he is still very, very lonely.
Late one night he quietly slips over the park fence to head back home. He comes to the realization that he misses his garden and his home turf so much and finally comes to the realization that that is where he belongs. He follows his heart once again and the surprise that awaits him on his return makes him very, very happy indeed.
Posted November 3, 2011
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