Sunday 30 December 2018

The Ice Monster

The Ice Monster by David Walliams, illustrated by Tony Ross (Harper Collins) PB RRP $22.99
ISBN 9780008297244

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

The Ice Monster is a middle grade fiction novel set in London in 1899. The protagonist, Elsie, is a kind-hearted 10-year-old orphan who has lived at Wormly Hall: Home for Unwanted Children all her life. After being constantly and severely mistreated by the iniquitous old Mrs Curdle, who manages the orphanage, Elsie decides to escape to ‘anywhere but here.’

Elsie then lives on the streets and fends for herself. Her new-found freedom, and sneaky tricks, allows her daily access to the National History Museum to relish in the wonders of the world. Big news soon hits London that an Ice Monster will be arriving from the Arctic to be exhibited at the museum! Elsie sees its photo on the front page of the newspapers and feels an instant connection as it looks ‘lost and alone’’an orphan’’just like me’. She follows the news daily until the perfectly preserved woolly mammoth, found frozen in a huge slab of ice, arrives. Elsie immediately and unequivocally adores it.

Elsie comes up with an idea to bring the prehistoric creature to back to life.  With the assistance of a newly found ally (Dotty the museum cleaner) and an egocentric museum Professor they put their strategy into action. A hilarious adventure and plenty of mishaps ensue, including a list of entertaining characters and some enemies intent on foiling Elsie’s plans for ‘Woolly’.

481 pages including 78 chapters may, at first, seem overwhelming for younger readers, however; with a quick flick through the pages they’ll soon discover lots of monochrome pictures, big spacing between lines and plenty of onomatopoeia in large bold font throughout the book. The Ice Monster is highly recommended for children aged 8+ who enjoy humorous adventures. For those of you familiar with Walliams work and curious… yes, Raj makes an appearance!

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