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Yellowbelly and Plum Go to School: 07/05/10
I discovered Nathan Hale via his wonderful work illustrating Shannon and Dean Hale's Rapunzel's Revenge and Calamity Jack. He has his own series of children's picture books staring Yellowbelly and Plum. The one I picked at random to read first was Yellowbelly and Plum Go to School.
Yellowbelly looks like a yellow furry friendly monster. Plum looks like a purple teddy bear. Now at first glance, the book is about a young monster who goes to school for the first time and like many children, takes along his favorite toy. The older, more experienced kids, tease the new student and take away the toy to roughhouse with it. If this were a typical book, Yellowbelly would learn not to take his favorite toy to school and the other children would learn not to tease the new kid.
This isn't one of those books. First and foremost, Yellowbelly lives in a world where monsters (for lack of a better word) and humans live side by side. If monsters are possible, it's equally as possible that Plum might be more than what he appears to be. The other students pick up on this and soon both new students are welcome members of the school.
As I mentioned I came to the story already in love with Hale's artwork, sense of humor and blog. For my son though, this was his introduction to Hale's work. He loved the book because the monsters and children were living together in the same world. The monsters were monsters and the children were children. It was, as far as he was concerned, perfect.