I've already admitted many times that I regularly judge a book by its cover. I'm more likely to check out a book if the cover appeals to me. So when I saw the little boy on the cover of Joe Fenton's What's Under the Bed? I knew I had to check the book out. How can you possibly resist those huge glasses, small eyes, worried expression, and adorable teddy bear?
This cute little story is simple but illustrated with an eye towards the adorable and strange. The majority of spreads are in black, white, and shades of grey. But each of them have a speck of color in them to draw attention. Whether it is Fred's (the narrator) blue striped pajamas, or a monster's huge red head, the color draws our attention. The simple story is told in rhyme (apparently I had a theme for the week since most of my books rhymed, unintentional I assure you). It tells the story of Fred, who is told to go to bed. Fred climbs into bed but then thinks he hears a sounds and starts to imagine the scary monsters that could be under his bed. He imagines them green or red, big or small, with sharp nails, or multiple tails. All this time he is seeing the terrible monsters of his imagination. When he finally does look it is only his teddy bear Ted.
This book is just adorable. Fred is cute with his gigantic head (and even bigger glasses), little body, and excellent expressions. We can see Fred's fear when he is about to look under the bed. He's simply terrified. I loved the roundness of the images. Fred, Ted, and even the bed are rounded, giving it a very visually appealing look for children. Even the monsters are somewhat circular. The monsters are well done to not be terrifying and will more likely make children giggle, then be afraid. These are not the scary monsters of monster movies but softer monsters like those found in Monsters Inc. The dark images heighten the suspense but the gentle roundness of the shapes seems to say that everything will be alright. The illustrations are very cartoony, making them more palatable to children who are easily frightened. The book isn't scary, in fact it's silly. This is a great book for children who are dealing with monsters under the bed. And a cute book for anyone else.
[Edit: What's Under the Bed was chosen for the General Mills book giveaway so you may be able to find little copies of the book tucked into your Cheerios and other cereals. I know those spots were very hotly competed for, so my Congratulations to Joe.]