Sunday, October 30, 2011

Reader's Diary #771- Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko: Boo!

Robert Munsch is a marketing genius. Someone having a new baby, line up for your copy of Love You Forever. Know a kid into hockey? Just One Goal makes a perfect gift. And of course, how about those holidays? Primary teachers just love themed classroom libraries, and you'd be hard pressed to find a Halloween collection in Canada that doesn't include Boo! written by Munsch and illustrated by long time collaborator Michael Martchenko.

You've got to admire that savvy, even if you're not wild about his books. As for me, I like Munsch in small doses. Essentially, you've read one Munsch book, you've read them all. Their formulaic, no doubt about it, but kids at least seem to love the formula. Drop in ample doses of repetition, escalate the silliness, and you can just about plug any plot in there.

In Boo! the silliness revolves around Lance, a boy determined to have the scariest painted face on Halloween. Not even a remotely scary book, it does have a chuckle or two as Lance proceeds to frighten the living daylights out of people answering their doors to trick-or-treaters. They pass out, he proceeds to rob them of their candy (it's Munsch, so such a moral issues is, as is typical, ignored). Finally he meets a teenager who might just be his match in the scary face department...

As usual, I enjoyed Martchenko's art, which it seems, in his later career is getting more retrospective. He seems to have a hidden trademark of sticking a pterodactyl somewhere, regardless of its relevance to the plot or setting. Likewise, he seems to be adding more characters from past books. At the end of Boo! we see someone dressed as the Paperbag Princess. Of course this too might be marketing, as younger readers are getting introduced to the back catalogue of Munsch.

You'd be correct in assuming that I have mixed feelings about Munsch books. Fortunately, my kids don't pick up on it. They are easy books to adapt and they're as fun as you make them. I read the characters with silly voices, and in Boo! my son loves to read the "Boo!" parts, at which I scream way too loudly for a bedtime read.

At age 6, Boo! is a perfect Halloween read.

(And according to this interview, he has written a couple Christmas books that are-- as of yet-- unpublished. $)


Allison said...

I loved Munsch as a child. Although I do recall getting a bit annoyed when reading Mortimer and there was so much repetition.

Looking forward to when I have children of my own, and rereading all these books again.

Perogyo said...

I had no idea about the Pterodactyl! Now I have to go search my Marchenko library for others.

Franklin said...

5/13 books so far. Next up Tell It To The Trees.

Shonna said...

I like Munsch in small doses too. There is one of his books that I don't like (creepy in a bad way) that seems really popular.

John Mutford said...

Shonna: Is it Love You Forever? I have no qualms about calling that one creepy!