3 out of 4 stars
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Have you ever signed up for a training or workshop with no clue as to what you will be doing there? If so, you may be able to identify with Sneaky the Hairy Mountain Monster.
Sneaky the Hairy Mountain Monster Goes to the Bahamas to the First Ever Monster Convention, by Norma Fleagane, is the fourth book in the Sneaky series. While characters from previous books are used and past events are briefly referenced, it is a stand-alone book for young children. Sneaky has never been to the Bahamas before, and he doesn’t know what a convention is, but he is eager to experience them both. Meanwhile, Blake James discovers his grandfather is the keynote speaker for the convention and agrees to tag along. We follow Sneaky and his monster peers as they explore the Bahamas, and then brainstorm ways they can better blend in with their communities to help people be less afraid of them.
There are many things to enjoy in this tale. Cute, quirky, colorful pictures capture the reader’s attention. I also liked that the language and the plot were simple and straight-forward. Young children would have no problem understanding this story as it is being read to them. Higher-level words had plenty of context clues to help the reader glean meaning. For example, one of the monsters, Gary Grimace, is illustrated with a grimace on his face, making it easy to determine the definition of the word grimace. I liked this story’s educational value the most. Through the monsters’ discussion of how to better blend in with the people around them, they were modeling being aware of how their actions affected others, a life skill that comes less intuitively for some children. Also, the story ends with a question, prompting the audience to discuss possibilities as to why Sneaky was feeling the depicted emotion. This also deepened the theme of having emotional awareness of yourself and others.
For optimum cohesiveness and flow, this book needed some scenes to be expanded. This issue was my least favorite part of the book. Based on the title, it is clear that Sneaky is one of the main characters of our tale. The story begins with Blake and his grandfather, two other main characters, discussing the up-coming convention. Unless you’ve read the other books, it isn’t until after the convention that it is made clear that Blake somehow knows Sneaky. Furthermore, these characters are never shown speaking with Sneaky at all. I think there could’ve been a moment at the beginning of the story where Blake recalls a snippet of some previous adventure with Sneaky. Also, there could’ve been something added with them briefly interacting with one another. These expansions would’ve helped the story arc feel more cohesive. Also, when Sneaky is exploring the Bahamas there is a scene where he is frightened and he shoots fire out of his face. In the picture we see he scares a nearby child. This scene was good because it built on the theme of emotions; however, I felt that it could’ve included a more concrete description of how Sneaky’s actions impacted those around him. This would create a smoother segue to the discussion the monsters have at the conference about blending in. In addition to the needed expansions, I found a few errors in this brief book.
With that said, I award this book a 3 out of 4 star rating. This children’s book has great educational value. Many will enjoy the fun illustrations of monsters and the discussion about emotional awareness that it will prompt. I believe expanding some scenes could jazz this tale up and make it top-notch. I recommend this book for those who have previously enjoyed Sneaky the Hairy Mountain Monster adventures. It would also be helpful for those who would like to share a delightful tale with the young people in their lives, especially if you need a gentle tool to encourage them to build their emotional IQ.
SNEAKY The Hairy Mountain Monster Goes to the Bahamas
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