Some picture books you know are going to be brilliant even before you open the covers. As soon as I saw the front cover of Heidi McKinnon’s new picture book, I Just Ate My Friend, with the startled monster staring out at the reader, I knew it was going to be a winner. It makes me laugh out loud every time I read it and I can’t wait to share it with kids!
I Just Ate My Friend is one of those fantastic picture books that invites the reader to be a part of story. The main character, a yellow monster with bulbous eyes, addresses the reader saying ‘I just ate my friend. He was a good friend, but now he’s gone.’ The monster then sets off to find a new friend, only to find that he’s too small, too big or too scary to be anyone’s friend. Just when he thinks he has found a new friend disaster strikes.
I love, love, love this book! Kids will beg I Just Ate My Friend to be read again and again. Heidi’s text and illustrations are simple but they combine to tell a very funny story. Rather than a lot of white space behind the monsters in the story Heidi has made it night time so the background is a night sky covered with stars. This makes the reader focus on the big, colourful monsters that take up most of the page. The yellow monster has large, expressive eyes, so you can tell how he feels. Understandably the yellow monster is rather distraught that he has eaten his friend and he gets increasingly worried that he won’t find a new friend. You see how happy the monster is when he does find a friend, only for this to be horribly ripped from his grasp.
If you love the dark humour of Jon Klassen’s This is Not My Hat you’ll love I Just Ate My Friend.
Shane Hegarty is the author of the awesome Darkmouth series. It’s full of legendary creatures of all kinds and there are plenty of laughs. You may have been one of the lucky people who got to hear Shane talk about his books when he visited the top half of the country last month (I’m very jealous!). The third book in the series, Chaos Rising, is soon to be released here in NZ and I got the chance to interview Shane about the series.
- What inspired you to write the Darkmouth series?
I ran out of excuses not to do it! From a very young age I’d wanted to write a story of fantasy and adventure, with scary bits, jokes, an ordinary hero in extraordinary circumstances. In the end, I wanted to write a story for my own kids that gave me the focus to make the relationships the heart of it even as their town is under attack.
- What 3 words would you use to describe the series?
Fun. Fantastic. Freaky.
- What would your Legend Hunter name be?
Shane the Easily Spooked.
- Which of your characters do you most relate to?
I relate to a few in different ways. Finn has to become a Legend Hunter even though he doesn’t feel strong enough, and I recognize his fear. His friend Emmie is fearless, and she’s the flip side of things – how I would actually like to be. Finally, Finn’s dad Hugo is a but pushy to his son, and I guess I recognise that even if I don’t want to be a pushy dad!
- Which Legend would you least want to encounter?
There’s a Hydra in Darkmouth 3: Chaos Descends, and I really wouldn’t like to meet any of its heads on a dark night. Or a bright day. Or at any time.
- The series is being adapted in to an animated movie. Will you have any part in the creation of the movie?
I’ve seen some of the early drawings and story ideas they’re working on in Hollywood, and it looks amazing. There are brilliant directors involved – Dave Pimentel (Moana) and Doug Sweetland (Storks) – so I know they’ll do a great job. I’m having fun watching it being put together.
- What books do you recommend for readers who love your series?
If you haven’t read Derek Landy’s amazing Skulduggery Pleasant, they’re so good. I always tell readers of my own favourite book, Douglas Adams’s the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and I’m always delighted when a reader is inspired to pick that up because they always love it.