Wednesday, 14 November 2018
Bella and Monty by Alex T. Smith, reviewed by Kelly McKain
With the nights drawing in, I've decided to return to an old family favourite for this blog, and share some fabulous vintage Alex T. Smith with you. If you can call a book published in 2009 vintage, of course! My daughter was born that year, and this book has been with us since a couple of years later, and has been thoroughly enjoyed by me and both my children (the second, her brother, coming along when it was a little more sticky, bent and painted on!).
You'll know Alex T. Smith as the brilliant author/illustrator of the Claude books, of course, which have been made into the fabulous Claude animation series by Sixteen South for Disney Junior, launched this year. Alex T. Smith's imagination can therefore be said to have led Simon Callow CBE to say, of his first ever role as a sock: "He's very well-written and the concept of the stories is very original. The characters are so vivid, funny and unexpected." So, that's some imagination!
This lovely imagination has also brought us the vivid, funny and unexpected characters of Bella and Monty. Bella Bones and Monty Mittens are best friends. They both like the colour orange. They both like slurping spaghetti. They both have the same size feet. But... unlike brave pooch Bella, Monty the cat is afraid of the dark. When it comes to lights out, he's quivering in his sleeping bag at their sleepover, and Bella, wanting to help, takes him, and all of us, on a journey through the dark night...
Being a true best friend, she shines a spotlight on Monty's fears - of the dark, of strange noises in the night, and of spiders - and calms them all with her inventive solutions and explanations. They can safely put the sun to bed because the moon is shining, looking out for them, and lighting up the dark night. The ghostly noises in the night are just Ghoul School students, doing their homework. Once Bella and Monty have joined in with a class (and Monty has helped glue a zombie's ear back on) the noises are no longer scary. And as for spiders - they're only scuttling around with their Chinese takeaways!
So Monty (and perhaps any readers less than in love with night time) is far happier to snuggle down in bed... after he's played a little trick on Bella, though, who turns out to be scared of something herself!
Bella and Monty: A Hairy, Scary Night by Alex T. Smith is published by Hodder Children's Books
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