by Steven L. Layne, illustrated by Chuck Galey
Pelican Publishing Company
Ages 6 and Up

“Monster Fear!” We’ve all had it. Come on. Admit it. Remember shadows drifting across your bedroom walls, curtains flapping in the night, or spooky noises bumping behind your closet door? “Quick!” you yell. “Shut it!” Then you jump into bed and dive under the covers. Remember the last time a monster visited you?

Take a memory trip back to when you were eight years old. Remember those especially dark nights when you stayed home alone? You convinced your mom or dad that you were old enough. You even convinced them that you didn’t need a baby sitter. But once the sun went down and the stars came out, remember how hard it was to convince yourself? I know, I do. A little “monster fear” goes a long way for a youngster. Children will definitely empathize with eight year old Joey in MY BROTHER DAN’S DELICIOUS written by Steven L. Layne and illustrated by Chuck Galey. As children turn each page, they will cheer Joey on as he tries to control and outwit his MONSTER . . . or his imagination. What do you think?

Children will love how illustrator, Chuck Galey reveals the “monster’s” presence on every page. They’ll delight in yelling, “Look out! There it is!” Then watch as Mr.Galey paints subtle hints of danger. They are everywhere. No wonder Joey is afraid. Look in the mirror. What do you see? And hey, what’s that under the rug? Are the pictures on the wall trying to give warning? There seem to be eyes everywhere . . . the window on the front door, the bannister, even on Joey’s backpack. Can you find more? So, before you turn off the light tonight, be sure to look under your bed.

 This review can also be seen on: SmartWriters
FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

“I noticed that the boy was really scared staying home alone,” said Hannah.

“Well, he thought there was a monster and he was scared of monsters,” said Greg.

“I thought there was a monster, too,” said Hannah. “And Joey saw a green thing that looked like a monster. I would be really scared.” She shivered and her eyes opened wide.

“Me too!” agreed Kiley. “I’m scared of monsters. Who wouldn’t be?” Then she laughed . .. a nervous laugh.

“The monster in the story was an octopus,” said Philippe, “but it wasn’t real.”

“But that octopus was on almost every page,” said Miguel. “It looked pretty real to me and I bet it looked real to Joey, too.”

“And the boy was scared of it,” said Greg again. “He kept saying, ‘Well, just you stay put!’”

“Well, Joey didn’t want to be eaten.” said Ethan. “Would you?”

Everyone laughed.

Then Hannah said, “Joey was pretty smart. He was trying to distract the monster so he could be safe.” She pondered a moment. “But in order to distract the monster, Joey put his brother, Dan, in danger.”

“Right!” said Emma. “He kept saying, ‘My brother Dan’s delicious.’ But, Joey didn’t really want the monster to eat his brother.”

Jaina shook her head. “It was like Joey was using a secret message,” she said. “And . . . it was kind of like the movie, Home Alone because the boy was alone there, too, and he tried to save himself.”

“Yeah!” agreed Emma. “Joey was just trying to trick the monster.” Then she smiled and said, “I loved when Joey said, ‘My Hero!’ That was a happy ending.”

Then just before the group ended for the afternoon, Tina said, “Do you think the illustrator was trying to trick us, too? Joey looked like him. Maybe this story happened to him when he was little.”

“Hmmm . . .”


I was planning to teach a lesson on contractions, using the segment of the title DAN’S DELICIOUS as a jump point. But as usual, the class diverted me. They do that often and I always follow their lead. Contractions will wait. For now, we will travel down the trail of synonyms. This is how it happened.

I wrote the words, DAN’S DELICIOUS on the board and asked the children what they noticed. I was hoping they’d notice the apostrophe in the word DAN’S and ask me about that. They didn’t.

Chrissy said, “He’s good to eat.” So I went with that. I asked the children for additional definitions for DELICIOUS. Some of the words they called out were, “Yummy,” “Tasty,” and “Mm-good.”Then, I chose several words from the book and listed them in chart form on the chalkboard. The children suggested synonyms to match the words. (See chart below.) This is a great way to increase children’s vocabularies.

WORDS . . . . . . . . . SYNONYMS

FEAR . . . . . . . . . . Scared . . . . . . . . . Afraid . . . . . . . . .Terrified

WEIRD . . . . . . . . . Kind of crazy . . . . Strange . . . . . . . .Mysterious

GLANCE . . . . . . . . Look . . . . . . . . . . .See . . . . . . . . . . Sight

Next, I read the story to them again. This time the children picked words from the story and I listed them on the board. The following is a selection of possible words. As you can see they range in difficulty.

SITUATION . . . . .MOMENT . . . . .DISTRACT . . . . .ALONE . . . . .SUCCULENT
MEAL . . . . . . . . SECRET . . . . . .GOODIES . . . . . PLATTER . . . APPETIZER

The children chose these words because some of the words were unfamiliar to them. They wanted to know their meanings. Then, I placed two to four children in each group. Together, they chose a word from the list and brainstormed as many synonyms as they could think of.

PLATTER . . . dish, plate,

ALONE . . . . . by yourself, no one’s there, on your own, with no one

MEAL . . . . . . food, supper, dinner, breakfast, snack

GOODIES . . . sweets, candy, treats, sugary junk SOMETHING GOOD/Robert Munsch

After fifteen to twenty minutes, the children met together as a whole group. Each group selected one member to read the synonyms for one of their words.

For extra practice the groups looked up their words in the dictionary. This is another fun way to increase vocabulary, as well as work on dictionary skills.

If you like MY BROTHER DAN’S DELICIOUS or books about monsters, you may also like the following books:




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