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Monday, February 8, 2016

Loula and Mister the Monster, written and illustrated by Anne Villeneuve. Kids Can Press, 2015. $18.95 ages 4 and up

"That night, Loula is too worried to sleep. She calls a meeting. "Mister, this is a serious matter. If you don't stop with the bad manners, Mama will throw you out, like an old pair of shoes! What would I do without you?" Loula gives Mister a kiss goodnight. "Don't worry, I'll think of something," she tells him as she drifts off to sleep. "I'm going to turn you into ... "

How big a mess do you suppose one Great Dane can make? Loula loves Mister with gusto. They go everywhere together ... and life is good! When Loula overhears a conversation that her mother is having about the MONSTER that is driving her mad, she assumes she must mean  the drooling, messy, bulldozer of a dog that is her best friend.

What can Loula do to make things better? She thinks long and hard, then settles on teaching him
some much-needed manners. How do you think that will go? She bathes him, dresses him in her father's tie, and tries to teach him table manners. Those darn cheese tarts are just too tempting! A lack of cleanliness and eating etiquette lead to disillusionment and a thoughtful sit on the front step.

Of course, Gilbert the chauffeur steps in, offering whatever help he might give. Lesson Three is a disaster, but Four offers promise. Five is impossible. Six is a disaster. A return home and a visit with her mother provides a surprise ending - and a reprieve for Mister and his loving owner.

Once again, Anne Villeneuve uses ink and watercolor to give her readers a real sense of the love shared, and the terror and chaos caused by an exuberant, hilarious dog. She uses every bit of each page to ensure we are thoroughly entertained while also experiencing a sense of dread over what might happen when all attempts to socialize Mister fail. Laugh out loud funny, this is a wonderful addition to this very appealing series.

If you haven't yet met Loula, you are in for a lovely time when you finally do!

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