2 out of 4 stars
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Eleven-year-old Tom feels misunderstood and can’t seem to wake up in the mornings. Feeling overwhelmed, he decides to run away from home. Shortly, he meets some kind caravan-dwellers and thinks life couldn’t be any better. That is, until he enters the Kingdom of Monsters.
Entering this unique kingdom, Tom encounters an assortment of monsters. While there, he agrees to participate in an unpredictable and exciting “Find the Dragon” game. As he plays, Tom realizes that maybe the misunderstanding back home was something different. Perhaps it was more of a lack of discipline on his own part that was missing. Join Tom on this monstrous journey in the children’s book, Down the Monster Hole by Carmela Tal Baron
This book is comprised of seventeen short chapters and includes a variety of cute and sometimes odd illustrations. Some children would most likely enjoy these odd illustrations and find them humorous.
As the reader closely follows Tom on his journey of self-discipline, he becomes the most developed in the book. Aside from Tom’s aloof parents and the welcoming caravan-dwellers, Tom interacts with a variety of harmless monsters. The monsters include the silly pair Hippo and Rhino, Gurgle the Giraffe, Ear-El the cockroach, Jack the Shark, and many others. These monsters were sometimes hard to keep track of, so I appreciated when the author reminded which names belonged to which monster. On the other hand, every character, with perhaps the exception of Tom, was one-dimensional.
The story had the reminiscence of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. The eccentric characters Tom interacted with were within a quirky dream sequence and they seemed somewhat disconnected to each other. Some were silly, some were kind, and some were simply odd. However, as in Carroll’s book, there wasn’t a singular plotline. Therefore, it was a mish-mash of stories and interactions that created a choppy flow to the storyline.
There were a couple of plot holes within the text, as well. For instance, at one point, Tom was told that three stories would be shared with him, and each would contain a lesson to be learned. However, as far as I could tell only one was told. It was unclear why the other two were left out. Also, the progression of Tom’s self-discipline journey was not specified. He discovered discipline within himself, but rather abruptly, and given his parents, I'm not sure if he was the sole reason he lacked discipline.
Unfortunately, there were also several errors included in this children’s book. Ranging from missing punctuation, insertion of extra letters, and capitalization inconsistencies, the book could use another round of editing. I would caution for parents to be aware of the errors, as children can be easily influenced in the way they write.
Though a potential fun read to some children, I can only grant Down the Monster Hole a 2 out of 4 stars because of the editing, plot holes, and weak theme. Due to this being a particular style of writing, I would only recommend it those who enjoy quirky tales.
Down the Monster Hole
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