Monday, October 20, 2008

Odd Couple: Boris and Bella by Carolyn Crimi and Gus Grimly

Bella LeGrossi was the messiest monster in Booville. None of the other monsters could stand Bella's mess, so Bella lived by herself.

Boris Kleenitoff was the tidiest monster in Booville. He vacuumed his vampires, dusted his spiderwebs, and polished his pythons daily. No one could stand Boris's persnickety ways, so Bella lived alone.

Boris and Bella can't seem to compromise on their habitual housekeeping conflict, but underneath their differences, there is a suggestion of attraction between the two. Still, Boris is not invited to Bella's holiday barbooque, and Boris sends Valentine's Day chocolate gargoyles to every monster but Bella.

But when the battling twosome compete to hold the biggest monster mash on Halloween, both are spurned by their spooky friends, Bella because her cauldrons are too crusty and Boris because his bewitched brooms never stop sweeping up his place. Instead their nasty neighbors choose to attend Harry Beastie's bash, because, as they put it, "His dust bunnies don't bite" and "He doesn't worry about claw marks scuffing the the floor."

Enraged, Bella and Boris decide to attend only to berate Beastie for daring to derail their party plans. At Harry Beasties' bash, however, the two party poopers can only hold out until the beat of the WolfMan Band gets their toes to tapping. Finally, the two relent:

Bella sighed. She loved to dance.

Boris looked at the floor. He hadn't danced in SO long!

Bella looked at Boris shyly. "Maybe we should show them how it's done," she said.

A truce follows for the terrible two. Moderating their housekeeping styles, the two remain friends and the following year they throw the "biggest bash Booville had ever seen... together."

Carolyn Crimi's Boris and Bella is full of puns, alliterations, and rhymes that fill the text with chuckles and grins. (The monster dine at a boo-ffet, Cy Clops bebops and the Bogeyman boogies, for example.) Gus Grimley's sophisticated and evocative artistic style is just right for this tongue-in-cheek tale of a couple of creeps who bury the hatchet. Pair this tried-and-true tale with Lisa Wheeler's brand-new Boogie Knights, (Richard Jackson Books (Atheneum Hardcover)), reviewed in my post here, for happy Halloween howls of laughter.

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