Giles Andreae and Sarah McIntyre would like you to meet Morris, the world’s stinkiest picture book hero… It’s years since he last changed his t-shirt It’s crusty and crawling with ants His shoes are all slurpy and squelchy inside And potatoes grow out of his pants.
Over the last few months I have had several emails from parents asking why I don't review many books for younger boys, and more specifically picture books. I guess the main reason is that as a secondary school teacher my main focus has always been the 11+ age range, and we don't really have many picture books in our house, although I still have fond and vivid memories of some of the picture books that I read (or had read to me) as a child. And so I have decided to rectify this on the run up to Christmas, and what a book to start with.
Morris the Mankiest Monster is possibly the most disgusting children's picture book ever and a very worthy successor to the filthy crown that for many years has been worn by Raymond Briggs and his Fungus the Bogeyman. How's this for a great set of opening lines:
"Morris the Mankiest Monster
Lives in a house made of dung
It only smells stinky enough when it's damp
So he keeps the walls wet with his tongue".
And that's one of the more pleasant quatrains in this gloriously revolting book, a more disgusting example being:
"His cheeks are encrusted with pustules
Which dribble like hot melted cheese
Warm yellow wax oozes out of his ears
And his eyebrows are riddled with fleas".
Revolting, yes? Well now imagine the illustrations that go with it and you will have a very good idea of what this book is like - Sarah McIntyre certainly does not hold back with her illustrations of Giles Andreae's hilarious rhyming words. Just look at the cover image above - I'm not sure I will ever be able to eat stringy cheese again! Sarah's illustrations are all beautifully drawn, with an incredible attention to detail that will have children poring lovingly over the pages looking for all the nastiest little creatures that live in Morris's house, and more disgustingly on his body. If there was ever a book that should come with a guarantee that it will be loved by children it is this one, and their parents will love it as well.
Experts claim that one of the best ways to get children interested in books at an early age is for their parents to read to them. For boys, this is even more important, and especially if that parent or carer is male. However, to many parents reading to their kids can be seen as something of a chore, especially after a long day at work, but reading books like Morris the Mankiest Monster could never be classified as a chore - it is just so much fun.
Morris the Mankiest Monster is available to buy right now, and my thanks go to the generous people at Picture Corgi for sending me a copy.