Monday, January 16, 2006

Show No Mercer

Children's book author and illustrator Mercer Mayer is no doubt best known for his cute Little Critter series for Golden Books that began in the late '70's and became a huge hit throughout the '80's. But for me, Mercer Mayer will forever be the author of one of my very favourite childhood books... the rare and precious One Monster After Another. This oversized hardcover from 1974 predates the simple quick-dash style of the 'Critter' books and is lush with texture and detail, a more elaborate style of ink and watercolour that Mercer has recently returned to. The story follows the adventures of Sally Anne's letter as it goes from the clutches of a 'Stamp-Collecting Trollusk' to the maw of a 'Letter-Eating Bombanat'and on to a 'Grumley', 'Ice-Ferg', 'Typhoonigator', and 'Yalapappus'... one monster after another... before reaching it's destination. Simple, and designed to showcase the bizarre creatures in creepy, silly, detail. You can tell that kids loved the book, and that teachers and parents hated it, because it costs a mint to get ahold of one of these out-of-print babies today! Did grown-ups' dislike the made-up words and lack of educational value? Or are they just skittish around monsters?-- Mercer's other 'cute' series for Golden, the Little Monster series, is also difficult to find these days (Little Monsters' teacher is the 'Grithix' from 'One Monster..', F.Y.I.). Anyway, it's a lost monster classic, right up there with Where The Wild Things Are, if you ask me.