The epic adventures of Bo the Brave
I Can Catch a Monster by Bethan Woollvin, Two Hoots
What's it about?
Bo's brothers tell her she is too little to join them on their monster hunt. Determined to prove that she is just as capable as they are, Bo creeps out of her castle and embarks on an adventure of her own. Along the way, she meets a series magnificent beasts who help her out when she gets into trouble. This transforms her understanding of the word "monster" and forces her to examine her goals.
What can we learn?
We shouldn't make judgements based on appearances. Our behaviour is what defines us - not what we look like. Just because we can catch a "monster," it doesn't necessarily mean that we ought to. It's important to be kind and to consider things from the perspective of others, especially those who may have been unjustly maligned. And, NEVER listen to anyone who says you can't do something.
What makes this stand out? I Can Catch a Monster promotes compassion and empathy, and celebrates the strength of all girls, regardless of their age. Despite exploring profound ideas and delivering valuable messages, this story remains light-hearted and entertaining throughout. Bethan Woollvin writes beautifully, and there's lots of humour and FABULOUS illustrations.
About those illustrations...
We are HUGE fans of Bethan Woollvin's unique and bold style, and the illustrations are spectacular. A limited colour palette, which includes zingy orange skies and raspberry hair and feathers, makes the images in this story even more striking. As always, the facial expressions and toothy grins of Bethan's characters are hilarious. Readers can catch a glimpse of the next "monster" in the background of some of the scenes. I love the use of pattern, the maps at the front and back, how Bo spears the letter 'R' on the cover, and its intricately-designed flaps.
Why we love it...
I love how this demonstrates that girls can do or be anything they want. I wish there had been more books like this when I was younger. It's such an empowering story and it's fantastic how it highlights that kindness is as powerful, and necessary, as bravery.
It's wonderful how this plays with the readers' expectations and the concept of monsters. It's exciting to meet less famous mythical creatures like the Griffin and the Kraken. At the end, there's a glossary of beasts who didn't make into this adventure. It's fun to spot some of these hiding in the book, and to imagine Bo's future encounters with them too.
Why you need it...
This is an empowering book which can be enjoyed by a variety of age groups. It will appeal to toddlers, and even babies, as the text is sparse and simple, and the images are full of strong colours, lines and patterns. Small children love repetition (and it helps their brains develop), and the brilliant catchphrase, "I'm Bo the Brave... prepare to be got!" appears several times.
There is plenty to engage and capture the imaginations of older readers too. We got this when my eldest was just under five-and-a-half and my youngest was almost three-and-a-half. Six months later, they are still mad about Bo. As this thought-provoking story encourages children to pursue their dreams, and inspires them to challenge all kinds of stereotypes, it's a must-have for every bookshelf.
About the author and illustrator:
Bethan Woollvin is famous for her feminist fairy tales and distinct, striking artwork. Bethan's debut picture book, Little Red, won the Macmillan Children’s Book Competition in 2014 and was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Book in 2016. Little Red also won the AOI World Illustration Award and was nominated for the Little Rebels Children’s Book Award and the Klaus Flugge Prize in 2017.
We're huge fans of Bethan's work, have all her books, and are excited to hear there's a new one coming in July! We were delighted when Bethan kindly agreed to an interview with Picture Book Snob as part of the blog tour for Meet the Oceans, her latest book with Caryl Hart - read our chat with Bethan here.