Friday, November 30, 2012

Mercer Mayer's Little Monster Home, School and Work Book - Review / Tool Flashcards

If you've read books together with a preschooler or early elementary aged child I imagine you've seen Mercer Mayer's popular Little Critter books.  But if you are like us, you might not be familiar with another of Mercer Mayer's fabulously cute characters -- Little Monster.

Little Monster has pointy ears and teeth, wings and a spiky tail. He's a not-to-scary, overall-wearing, dragon kind of monster that spends his days doing the ordinary things all children do: going to school, spending time with his family and trying to stay out of trouble.  The Little Monster series books were first published in the late 1970s, and the bestselling books continue to be popular with young kids today. However, many of the books are now long out-of-print. 

FastPencil is helping to bring back the Little Monster books for a new generation to read. The company has released a fantastic Mercer Mayer Classic Collectible four-book series. The books feature Mayer's “Little Monster” character.  My family recently had the chance to read one of the books in the series: Mercer Mayer's Little Monster Home School and Work Book.

Though it's printed with different formatting, Mercer Mayer's Little Monster Home, School and Work Book is actually a compilation of three of Mayer's original picture books: Little Monster at Home, Little Monster at School and Little Monster at Work. As collections tend to be, this hardcover book is larger-sized, 92 pages long in all.  Each of the stories are treated like separate chapters within the book and a table of content in front indicates page numbers.  The book is also available as an e-book download (we received the hardcover copy version to review).

Young kids can easily identify with Little Monster -- after all, even though he's dragon-like, he acts like a normal kid, not a monster! The illustrations in the book are very similar to those in the Little Critter series, packed full of imaginative, action-filled scenes and interesting characters.

My kids especially appreciate how Mayer includes little humorous scenarios within the illustrations including aliens at the airport and a spider inching down from a bathroom sink right in front of a monster cat.  In fact, the illustrations are so fun to look at, you'll want to spend a little extra time pouring over the pages while reading to make sure you don't miss anything in the book.  Both my kids found the book engaging and enjoyable. It's a good read aloud for preschoolers and also is challenging and interesting enough for early readers.  I'd recommend it for ages preschool-2nd grade.

Little Monster gives a tour of his house in Little Monster at Home. He starts with the cellar, a rather  unusual choice. (Who starts a home tour with the cellar? - I guess monsters do!)  Mayer provides readers with a fun glimpse into the life of the Little Monster family. They take baths and do the laundry just like the rest of us.  Little Monster's pet Kerploppus sleeps on the couch, "even though he is not supposed to."  The book also details what the family does around the house during the various seasons. I adore the winter illustrations.  Little Monster mentions Christmas and likes his house best in wintertime because "it's so very snuggly and warm." 

In Little Monster at School, a student named Yally doesn't seem to like school much at all. He gets frustrated easily and wants to be the best at everything. Little Monster shows how to be a good friend and helps brings out the best in Yally by boosting Yally's self-confidence with some well-deserved praise. [In related news, earlier this year Wanderful, Inc. released a Little Monster at School iPad storybook app.]

My son's favorite section of the book is the Little Monster at Work part. The busy illustrations and focus on vocabulary building in this Little Monster story remind me of Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day. Little Monster follows his grandfather to various places and learns about different occupations.  Together they visit a road construction site, car shop, T.V. station, circus, newspaper business, medical center, campsite,  marina, the moon, a diner, home construction site, airport, farmer's market, the Olympics, craft fair, town square, and also learn about jobs in science.  There's not much explanation in the text as to what the various jobs entail, but the illustrations offer unlimited discussion possibilities.
Little Monster Home School and Work Book by Mercer Mayer. FastPencil Premiere (October 2012); ISBN 9781607469452; 92 pages
Book Source: Review copy provided by publisher
Other books in the Mercer Mayer Classic Collectible series include: Little Monster Word Book with Mother Goose; Little Monster Fun and Learn Book and Professor Wormbog In Search for the Zipperump-a-Zoo 

Related Links

Tool Flashcards and Tool Box Educational Activity

The book ends with a question from Little Monster, "Did you see anything in my book that you would like to be?" I asked my son what he wanted to be when he grows up and he replied, "a fixer."  That's not entirely surprising considering both of his grandfathers are retired mechanics. We talked about the different tools mechanics use, and I asked him to identify a few common tools.  He knew a few but it became quickly apparent that his basic tool vocabulary is lacking.

We were on a vocabulary kick after reading the word heavy "At Work" section of Mayer's book, so I decided to further the educational lessons and make some tool flashcards and a paper tool box envelope to hold the flashcards for my son. Now he knows correct tool terminology and can call the tools by their proper names (both grandpas will be so proud). We've played with the cards in a variety of ways including putting the tools in alphabetical order. I'm considering printing out a second set so we can play Go Fish--tool style.

Hand Tools Activities and Worksheets for Kids
Tool Coloring Pages and Writing Practice - Twisty Noodle
Handy Manny Toolbox Printable -
T is for Toolbelt Craft - Brilliant Beginnings Preschool
Matching Tools Printable (Pre-K - 1st) - TeacherVision
Tools Printouts -
Webelos Craftsman Activity Badge Worksheets - Boy Scout Trail
Felt Tools and Toolbox Templates - Serving Pink Lemonade

I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)  


JDaniel4's Mom said...

I think a fixer is a very good job! What a wonderful way to explore the concepts of a book!

Thank you for linking to Read.Explore.Learn. I will be sharing this post on the Read.Explore.Learn. Facebook page tomorrow.