Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Beast Inside: ROAWR! by Barbara Joosse

One dark and snarly night when Papa was away and Liam was a-snuggled in, he heard a forest crack and snap! His heart thumped. DANGER!

Barbara Joosse newest, Roawr! is a fresh and creative take on the same subject Maurice Sendak covered so well in Where the Wild Things Are.

Like Max, Liam is a boy whose mama is a bit tired of his rambunctiousness. "Use your inside voice! No sticks in here! And NO double cake!" She sends him off to bed and is soon asleep herself.

But his father is away, and mama is in danger from whatever is out there in the dark! Liam is just a small boy, but a brave one, and he realizes that it's up to him to protect his mother. As he assembles the materials to build a fort, the forest begins to take over even in his own room, with huge, jungle leaves upholstering the chair and covering the wallpaper, and rocks and sticks all around. And there is that sound again. ROAWR! Still, fortified with provisions, even the forbidden double cake, Liam confronts the huge bear out there, constructing a deadfall and taking the big, loud beast prisoner in the deep pit.

But the bear is now more scary than before, even confined in Liam's trap.

Bear! He rumbled in the hole, slashing the moonlight bloodily with his claws and bellowing. ROAWR!

"Now what?" Liam shivered. He was just a boy!

But Liam is a clever boy who figures out how to tame a snarly, hungry bear, and when the bear's loud ROAWR is tamed, Liam takes himself sleepily back to bed where both he and Mama are safe for the night. In his no longer forested room, Liam is secure and ready to sleep, toy bear by his side.

Now back at home, Liam slippered off his fuzzy feet and crawled into his cave to sleep. zzzzzzzzzz!

In artist Jan Jutte's evocative illustrations, little Liam, like Max, tames his inner and outer wild thing just in time for bedtime, banishing the forest inside. Joosse, who has shown that she understands the ways of boys in her I Love You the Purplest has reworked this theme delightfully in her story of a boy who puts his inner ROAWR! to sleep.

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