Reviews for Here Be Monsters! : An Adventure Involving Magic, Trolls, and Other Creatures

Booklist Reviews 2006 May #2
Gr. 4-6. Wearing a flying contraption that consists of leathery wings and a box with a crank, Arthur quietly flutters across the night sky above the town of Ratbridge. He liberates a bunch of bananas from the greenhouse of "a very large lady with a very long stick" and escapes, only to spot an illegal cheese hunt, give chase, and land in a peck of trouble. Soon the plucky lad allies himself with boxtrolls, cabbageheads, pirates, rats, a retired lawyer, and the sadly imprisoned Man in the Iron Socks in a mighty struggle against a pack of scurrilous villains. Snow, who has written and illustrated droll picture books such as How Santa Really Works (2004), provides small, detailed, crosshatched drawings on nearly every page of the novel. Helpful in creating the settings and bringing the more fantastic characters to life, the illustrations, which are often amusing, also make the book accessible to younger children who like lengthy books. Snow's inventive fantasy, somewhat reminiscent of Roald Dahl's work, combines stout hearts, terrible troubles, and inspired lunacy. ((Reviewed May 15, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Spring
Underground dweller Arthur runs afoul of the Cheese Guild, a secret society bent on destroying the town of Ratbridge. Aided by friendly boxtrolls, shy cabbageheads, piratical rats, and the Man in the Iron Socks, Arthur must foil the cheese hunters' dastardly plans. Snow's lively pen-and-ink drawings decorate most pages of this surrealistically meandering (fifty-five short chapters), easygoing tale. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2006 June #1
Interspersed with hundreds of intricately detailed vignettes, this loony escapade introduces one of the most engaging casts in years. The factory town of Ratbridge has fallen on hard times since the collapse of the autocratic Cheese Guild, but even darker days may be in store, as Snatcher, the Guild's crazed head, is creating a cheese-fed monster to avenge the loss of his fortune. The notably diverse crew opposing him includes Arthur, a foundling lad raised in the town's extensive system of tunnels; canny retired patent attorney Wilbury Nibble; and a host of uncommon helpers, from toothy but shy "boxtrolls" to a crew of human and rat pirates. The action begins as Snatcher and minions set out on an illegal cheese hunt, climaxes with an explosion that leaves an entire neighborhood coated in cheesy goo and in between delivers enough headlong, riotous adventure for an entire series. The next episode can't come too soon. (Fantasy. 11-13) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 July #3

Snow (How Santa Really Works ) stakes a claim to Roald Dahl territory with his imaginative debut novel, the launch of the Ratbridge Chronicles. Young Arthur, equipped with a flying machine, enters the town of Ratbridge with the aim of stealing some food for himself and his grandfather, who live underground. The boy witnesses a "cheese hunt" (blocks of cheese, in this world, are "nervous beasties, that eat grass by night, in the meadows and woodlands," and easy prey for hunters), an illegal entertainment led by a top-hatted rogue called Snatcher. Arthur finds himself trapped in Ratbridge, where he falls into the caring hands of Willbury Nibble, the Queens' retired lawyer. The kind gent promises to help him locate a tunnel back home but Snatcher has sealed all the entries. Snow uses this hero's return tale to explore his invented world, stuffed to the gills with British oddities, many of which appear in his plentiful cross-hatched pen-and-inks. His eccentric characters include beached pirates who do laundry for a living, underground-dwelling cabbageheads, and the Irregular Police Force, whose members ride bicycles with octagonal wheels ("the policemen could be heard a long way off as they let out little cries of pain at every turn of the wheels"). A larger story involves villainous Snatcher and a machine he has stolen that can shrink and enlarge living creatures. This veritable city-state of a novel is as sprawling as it is silly. Ages 8-14. (Aug.)

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 July #4
In this first volume in The Ratbridge Chronicles, young Arthur enters the town of Ratbridge to scrounge for food but quickly finds himself trapped by the machinations of the villainous Snatcher. In a starred review of Snow's "imaginative debut novel," PW said it was "stuffed to the gills with British oddities" and "as sprawling as it is silly." Ages 8-14. (Aug.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Review 2006 August

Gr 4-7 Ratbridge is populated by a variety of odd creatures and equally unusual humans. Underlings, including boxtrolls (shy trolls that wear boxes) and cabbageheads (they worship cabbage and wear them tied to their heads), live in tunnels and caves beneath the city. A boy named Arthur emerges from his subterraneous home and discovers an evil plot. The shady members of the Cheese Guild, led by an unpleasant fellow called Snatcher, are kidnapping underlings and plotting to take over the town. Arthur's allies against the Guild include underlings, a man in iron socks, and the pirates and rats who run the Nautical Laundry. There's a great deal of inspired silliness throughout, which may appeal to fans of Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket. Although the characters are not particularly well developed through words, numerous high-quality, black-and-white illustrations bring Ratbridge and its citizens to life, accentuating the comical tone and helping to pace the tale. The action is clearly played for laughs rather than suspense, as when the heroes repulse an attack on their ship by firing balls of bilge-pump gunk using catapults made of knickers. Some readers might lose interest in the sometimes-rambling series of events, but the short chapters, intriguing creatures, quirky humor, and engaging art make this book a good choice for youngsters who enjoy lengthy and lighthearted fantasy.Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR

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