- Craig Graziano
There's a lot more to Happy Birthday, Monster! than just monsters. Sure, there is a mummy, a skeleton, a vampire, and a ghost involved, but there's an alien and a robot too. That is not a problem. Diversity is great, especially when dealing with guys and gals like these.
This bunch is just looking to have a good time at their friend Doris' (a lizard creature of sorts) birthday. Devilish Ben is throwing the bash, and early on we see him brushing and flossing his teeth... and then brushing and flossing his horns.
The fun of Scott Beck's book is seeing how each of these very different characters interact with each other. The book explores what happens when the ghost slow dances ("You're very light on your feet.") or when the robot falls in love with an ordinary houselamp.
Many of the two page spreads resemble short comic strips that you would see in the Sunday paper. I was reminded of Peanuts as I flipped through the pages, especially during one gag when the ghost is jumping rope and the friends hold the rope quietly think "Miss! Miss! Miss!" Alas, ghostie never does.
I wouldn't say that Happy Birthday, Monster is a stupendous read aloud. The fact that the illustrations operate like comics means that one has to bounce back between the text telling the story and the word bubbles in the pictures, which is a tad disjointed. Still, this is an incredibly fun time. Plus it's a personal rule of mine to recommend any book that shows a robot frying a piñata to smithereens.
If you end up liking this story, the author recently wrote the sequel: Monster Sleepover! Check them out today, and throw a party for your own little monster. I know who I'd throw one for, and her birthday is tomorrow. Happy Birthday, Monster!