Thursday, September 13, 2012

[BOOK REVIEW] The Beast of Monsieur Racine by Tomi Ungerer

Title:  The Beast of Monsieur Racine

Author:  Tomi Ungerer

Genre: Monsters / Friendship / Contest

Year Published: 1971

Year Read: 1993

Publisher:  Farrar Straus Giroux

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 7+ (Some Violent Imagery)

I have actually first heard of this book on a children’s video series called Weston Woods and I enjoyed it back then and I enjoy it now! “The Beast of Monsieur Racine” is a children’s book by Tomi Ungerer, which is about how a retired tax collector named Monsieur Racine meets up with a strange beast near his pear tree and becomes instant friends with the beast. “The Beast of Monsieur Racine” may have some gruesome images that might scare smaller children, but it is still a fun book to read!

Monsieur Racine was a retired tax collector who owns a magnificent pear tree that grows the most delicious pears in all of Paris. Every time millionaires came by to offer money to Monsieur Racine for his pear tree, Monsieur Racine would always turn them down claiming that the pear tree belongs to him and him alone. One morning, however, Monsieur Racine wakes up to find all the pears on his tree disappear and Monsieur Racine decided to stay up during the night to find the thief. Finally during the night, Monsieur Racine spots a beast eating his pears and Monsieur Racine was so interested in the beast that he became fast friends with the beast. Then one day, Monsieur Racine decided to show the beast off to the Academy of Sciences in Paris!

Words cannot describe about how I felt about this book as this book is both surreal and lovable at the same time! Tomi Ungerer’s writing is hilarious and touching at the same time as it details the unlikely friendship between a beast and a man and I loved the way that Monsieur Racine just openly accepted the beast without a hint of fear, which help proved the book’s point about how true friendships is never based on how a person looks. I also loved the way that Tomi Ungerer made this story seem so out of the ordinary as there are many twists and turns in the plot where you least expect it to happened, especially at the end of the book, which I will not tell since I do not want to spoil the book for anyone. Tomi Ungerer’s illustrations are surreal and hilarious as there are various images in this book that have people doing random things at the corners of the pages and one of the most surreal images in this book was the image of the beast itself as it has a long pink snout, long droopy ears, baggy knees and feet that look like stumps. I also loved the image of Monsieur Racine himself as he looks very distinguished with his small pot belly, friendly looking eyes slightly hidden behind some spectacles and a pointy mustache.

Now the only problem with this book was that there were some gruesome images, which is something you would not expect in most of Tomi Ungerer’s books. Here are some examples of some gruesome images in this book:

A picture of a fox carrying a dead rabbit in its mouth

A picture of a man carrying a severed foot in a bag

A couple of photos where people lose pieces of their heads.

And so on.

The thing about these gruesome images is that they are not the core focus of the story, so children probably might not notice these images, unless some children like looking at various images closely.

Overall, “The Beast of Monsieur Racine” is a truly wonderful book about true friendship that both children and adults will enjoy! I would recommend this book to children ages seven and up because let us face it, smaller children might be frightened by the various images of people getting their limbs cut off and if I was a parent, I might be a bit hesitant in showing smaller children this book because of those gruesome images, but it does depend on the child if they like the book or not.

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