Monster School by Kate Coombs ill Lee Gatlin
Coombs has applied her considerable talent for creating clever rhymes to the subject of monsters. In this collection, the monsters are students. Common school occurrences are given a slightly macabre twist: a science fair project created by Frankenstein’s grandson, baseball played in the graveyard, a student who constantly misplaces school supplies in addition to losing his body parts. These clever and entertaining riffs are monstrously fun.
Verses include a variety of poetic forms and rhyme schemes. Most patterns are predictable, making it easy for students to sense the rhythm and rhyme within each stanza.
Gatlin captures the zany shenanigans happening at Monster School with full page illustrations. Muted autumn shades of grays, browns, and greens make the ghostly white faces and eyeballs pop out of each page
School is in Session
These poems are too delightful to keep to oneself. They beg to be shared. How about creating some puppets based on the monsters depicted throughout the pages? Gather up a handful of craft supplies, a copy of the book, and a fertile imagination. Viola! You have the beginnings of one monstrously good puppet show. There are endless possibilities for puppets: finger, sock, glove, stick, paper sack, or create something more inventive. The choice depends on what is on hand and the skill level of the puppet makers.
A few of the craft supplies that I assembled: foam squares, felt, yarn, pom poms, chenille stems, goggly eyes, yarn, and even some corn husks. Add some wooden skewer sticks and hot glue gun. Operation Frankenstein-esque Creature Lab was underway.
I looked for clues in the text to help create my puppets. The head of snakes featured in "Hair Care" was made with chenille stems, shaped by twisting them around a pencil. I used tiny green buttons for the snakes' heads. The purple hair mentioned in "Monster Mash" is a scrap of tulle, tied off at intervals. The hair for "Song of the Freckles" does not follow the image in the book because.... we had some fresh corn and the husks and silk were too funky to throw away. I twisted the damp husk slivers around a pencil and let them dry. They made the perfect curls for a monster girl.
So many possibilities. So much fun!