Dave the Lonely Monster (Simon & Schuster), written by Anna Kemp and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie, is hilarious with a heart of gold. Much like Dave himself, in fact.
In his youth, Dave the rock-and-roll-loving monster was a bit of a hellraiser, until he was banished by the grumpy townsfolk. Now he lives alone in his retirement cave but pesky knights still try to rouse him to fight. Cue one of the most wonderful and funniest pages of rhyme I’ve ever seen in a picture book:
‘Then one day, as old Dave dozed,
A cabbage bopped him on the nose,
A beetroot in the eye,
An aubergine flew by.’
The chucker of the veg in question is a tiny knight, Percival the Brave, who’s determined to make Dave meet his doom. But Dave soon helps Percival to realise that monsters have feelings too. And what about the rest of the townsfolk? Can they get a bit more monster in their lives?
I love Sara Ogilvie’s depiction of the townsfolk – so much colour, detail and lively characterisation – but the illustrations of Dave are even better. How can an ageing purple monster be so lovable? He just is. I loved poring over all the things Dave gets up to – busting some tunes, obviously, but also knitting, exploring rock-pools and even watching mice joust.