Written and Illustrated by Simon Bartram
Published by Templar Books ISBN: 978-1-78370-40-7 (paperback) ISBN: 978-1-78741-008-4 (hardback)
Reviewed by Karl Andy Foster
What is it that every Monster wants? Answer: to scare a Peopley Person! The only problem is where do you find a Peopley Person? Rufus has read books by experts on the subject and he knows he is ready to watch them squirm with fear. The creator of Man on the Moon (a Day in the Life of Bob) returns with a story about Rufus and his desire to be a tip top scary Monster.
Things for Rufus are not straightforward, and neither is his search. He lives in a wilderness where he fails to spot any Peopley Persons at all. He is an enthusiastic hunter at first, but it all seems in vain.
Bartram infuses his peaceful landscapes with melancholic longing as we feel for Rufus in his search for fulfillment. He scours land, sea and air but all he spies are other smaller monsters and there are quite a lot of those. Bartram’s hand-rendered illustrations are subtle, precise and perfectly realized. Rocks, machines and water are all beautifully controlled.
Bartram’s writing is full of energy with an emphasis on invented words. Visual clues and modes of travel help to drive the plot, and young readers will enjoy the interactivity of the story as they pick out the clues. We get to see a Monster who although a hulking creature has a friendly face and makes a fine attempt at sartorial elegance, despite the bobble hat.
The strength of the storytelling is in its simplicity. When Rufus arrives at the Super Spooky Party we see a very different side to him. Rufus is a life-affirming story that captures the true value of companionship and how we all need to find our place and purpose in this world.