rodzillaOur book today is a bone-chilling monster story of the most intimate kind, a story about a monster who’s not only gargantuan and wantonly destructive but … kind of cute. The book is Rodzilla (new from Margaret McElderry Books, a division of Simon & Schuster), with words by Rob Sanders and pictures by Dan Santat, and it opens with the city of Megalopolis in turmoil: stomping through its streets, toppling its buildings, barfing and farting all over its innocent civilians, wobbling and drooling through its scenic parks is a towering monster known as Rodzilla.

The property damage might be typical of most monster stories, the panicked citizens and wide-eyed news commentators might be staples of the genre, but rodz1even so, there are strange differences about this particular disaster scenario. For instance, this monster never really stops smiling. And he’s got an adorable pug nose. And stubby fingers. And no teeth in his enormous grinning mouth. And how many city-stomping monsters wear a T-shirt that says “Totally Rod”?

Not that any of it seems to lessen his path of destruction. “Rodzilla has grabbed a taxi … and a bus,” we’re told. “He’s the mightiest creature to ever roam the streets. Residents can only stare at this chubby monstrosity. They gaze in horror rodz2at his toothless grin.”

Thankfully, not all Megalopolis citizens are quite so paralyzed with fear. Just as the monster’s rampage seems unstoppable, a young woman and man step forward to confront … their barfing, crying, laughing, waddling, playroom-destroying toddler, Rod – who’s a such a little monster!

It’s all utterly delightful. Elementary school teacher Rob Sanders has a fine ear for the relentless onslaught of melodrama that is the inner life of every toddler, and the illustrations by Caldecott-winning artist Dan Santat are warm and bright and full of antic motion. And despite the carnage and the mess and the toys scattered everywhere, the ending is happy – the monster is pacified. For now.

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© 2007-2017, Steve Donoghue