Monday, 22 October 2012

The Monsters' Ball - a Halloween-themed book review

I don’t like it when things go bump in the night. Or in the middle of the day for that matter. As was the case when the postie delivered my copy of Tamara Small and the Monsters’ Ball (not to be confused with the film or anything to do with Lady Gaga).  It landed with an ominous thud…and immediately I felt a creepy chill in the air (although I later discovered this was because the rest of the mail had wedged the post hatch open).

Thankfully Little Bean seems to be less of a wuss than her mother. The dark places under beds are hiding places for toys and her wriggly self rather than monsters, and she has no qualms about going to sleep in a dark room. This is completely opposite to her mother who needed a nightlight until eighteen, and only then did away with it because my uni roommate would have laughed at me.

So back to the book. It starts off scarily. On a dark and windy night, a seemingly nasty hairy monster sneaks up on the heroine, Tamara Small, and spirits her away to a dark and foreboding place. But there things start improving as it turns out to be the annual monsters’ ball and little Tamara has a dance with every dodgy character going. Morals? Face your fears and don’t make a swift judgement on appearances. So far, so Twilight.

If I’m completely honest, I did think the monstery bit at the beginning might frighten the more sensitive souls, but then I forget that I grew up on witches who kept little children in cages (Hansel and Gretel), Grandma-eating wolves (Red Riding Hood), and ‘chiddler’-eating giants (Roald Dahl's BFG).

All in all, I think this is a wonderfully colourful book with a positive outcome for both humans and monsters. A perfect little trick and treat for Halloween in fact - and less scary than a visit to the dentist after all the sweets.


Title: Tamara Small and the Monsters' Ball

Author: Giles Paley-Phillips
Illustrator: Gabriele Antonini
Publisher: Maverick Books

*This book was sent to me for the purpose of review.


  1. Hi, can i ask you something? I’m looking for children books with “scary” animal illustrations like the big bad wolf (or a fox) eating pigs (or seven kids or Red Riding hood or birds in Chicken Little) or being pictured with a fat stomach. Could be any other animal as well. I need it for my research I'm doing. Have you seen any book of this sort? Any sort of help is appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    Great blog, by the way!


    1. Thanks Nelly
      The author and illustrator of this book did another one called The Fearsome Beastie which has really good/scary illustrations. None of the classic tales though - is that what you're after specifically?
      I blogged a little while ago about Struwelpeter which is a brilliant but fairly disturbing compendium of scarytales
      If I think of any more I'll let you know... Thanks for reading x

    2. Yeah I'm mostly after classic tales with animals characters. But thanks anyway. ;)