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Here Be Monsters! (The Ratbridge Chronicles) Paperback – August 28, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

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. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 9
  • Series: The Ratbridge Chronicles (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (August 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689870485
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689870484
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Mary Martin on September 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book for my 9-year-old son based on the comment that is printed on the back of the book's cover. The comment reads: "My son is eleven and has never read a real book in his life. A friend gave me the book and my son just sat down and read it over the weekend. A miracle!" I thought, yeah right, her son probably doesn't have video game controllers glued to his hands like my son. My son thinks that consulting his favorite web sites online constitutes a good reading experience. Anyway, I decided to get the book and see if it would capture his attention, but frankly didn't hold out much hope. He has never wanted to read independently. Well, I am here to say that there is something unique about this book because it truly is the first one that has sucked him into its world. For the first time, he is willingly doing his reading time for class and even going beyond this. He is a little more than half-way done with the book and is enthralled with it. I'm already getting worried about what we'll do when he finishes it. Can the author quickly get the next volume out? Until the next volume comes out, I'm afraid we're doomed to slide back into mediocre reading that involves a cursory look at the latest gaming magazine. Go ahead and try this book if you have a recalcitrant reader. I hope you have the same success that we have had and that it is enjoyed as much as it has been by my son.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Kara Roche on October 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I was immediately drawn into Here be Monsters when I saw it on a shelf in a local bookstore. It is captivating, seeming to meld the curious Victorian imagery of Edmund Gorey with the density and endlessness of a 100 year old Sears Roebuck catalog.

But I have to be frank. My son has a very active imagination (read "nightmares") and I was not that interested in providing more grist for that mill!

So let me clear the air here. The only monsters are humans, and while they are dastardly and mean, they are not terrifying. Just the same mean, self-centered, narcissistic jerks that life is full of.

The so-called monsters in this book (boxtrolls, cabbageheads and the like) are charming, caring, thoughtful, and endearing. But not scary.

Please buy this book. Buy five copies. Buy ten. If only that you will bless five or ten children (so far I have tested on a five and a ten year old) with a sweet, fun, clever, creative romp through Ratbridge.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on June 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'll begin by confessing my ignorance regarding this book's title. When I first picked up, "Here Be Monsters!", I was unaware of where this sentence came from. With some quick research I consulted a reliable source (reliable source = my husband) and found that this was the term written on uncharted waters on old maps. Should a ship fail to return from some portion heretofore undiscovered on the map, the mapmaker would whip out that old phrase, "Here Be Monsters", to warn future adventurers. I mention all this because I think author Alan Snow is a genius. For wild, wacky, unimaginable fun paired with ridiculous horrors, "Here Be Monsters!", cannot be beat. Impossibly British and a riveting read, this is probably one of the best books to swim across the Atlantic this year. I can honestly say that neither you nor your children will ever come across a book quite like this again.

How to begin? Well, there once was a boy named Arthur who lived underground with his grandfather. This kind of life has its problems, of course. To get food, for example, Arthur must climb out of the underworld and use his grandfather's leather-winged technology to fly about the town scavenging for food. One night Arthur gets wrapped up in the affairs of some particularly shady characters. Long ago the evil Cheese Guild held the town of Ratbridge in its iron fist. Since then, the guild supposedly died out after the Great Cheese Crash. On this day, however, Arthur spots some former guild members hunting slow moving wild cheese (a cruel sport) just outside of town. Before he knows what's happened to him the nasty Archibald Snatcher has stolen Arthur's wings and all holes to the underworld have been blocked up.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Colorado Cupcake on August 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
My 9 year old son hates to read, considers it torture of the worst sort. When his teacher sent home a reading log which demanded 350 pages for an "A", I thought- "Well, an "A" would have been nice." Then, on a trip the same day to the library where above-mentioned son usually spends his time on the computer games, I saw "Here Be Monsters", with the picture of a Boxtroll on the front. It's a monsterously sized children's book, at 508 pages, but I thought "What the heck, it's worth a try." Well- we're doing at least 1/2 hour a day. What joy! He laughs, he reads, he laughs, he refers to the Johnson's Taxonomy, he READS! Now I have to buy the darn book. Praise the Lord!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By C. A. Good on October 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I read this book aloud to my children who are six and eight, they were entranced! As we got closer to the end we added extra reading times to move us along. It was a delight to read out loud as opposed to some of the other books my children have chosen. We can't wait for the next volume!
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Here Be Monsters! (The Ratbridge Chronicles)
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