Everyone loves a special holiday, a time when one can invite a few friends around, prepare some delicious eats, and everyone settles down to watch the parade on television. One is not supposed to sneak off and eat everything ... everything? Yep, everything. In Feast for the Beast by Russell Dorn, the unthinkable happens. Gummy the (toothless) werewolf just can’t wait for the turkey to be done to a golden brown; he has to stop that growling in his stomach. Before he knows it, Gummy has eaten the feast meant for everyone to enjoy. Aghast, he doesn’t know what to do as his hungry friends depart, saddened by his greed. Gummy has to make it up to them, but how? And then he has an idea! A brilliant idea!
What a lovely tale of mayhem behind the scenes as Gummy wades into the food and literally devastates the feast because he can’t stop at just one bite. Although the feisty fruitcakes fight back, they are no match for a hungry beast! Pumpkin pie, green beans, cocoa, candy bars, it all goes down the hatch. The illustrations by David Dorn are simply adorable! Bright and detailed, they almost tell the story in themselves. The simple but descriptive rhymes very adeptly paint the scene as Gummy quickly scoffs the food meant for everyone to share. Although some words might be advanced for a young reader, this is a perfect opportunity for the adult reading aloud to explain meanings, and build on the child’s vocabulary. I loved the play on words, such as ‘tomb-scones.’ Another fun educational aspect is counting the items that Gummy devours, such as ten slices of pumpkin pie and twelve cups of cocoa.
This holiday story, although set in winter, could suit any special festive day in the calendar. Thanksgiving and Christmas spring to mind, but what could be better than Halloween, given that the guest list features monster characters such as Felipe Femur the skeleton, Sunny Stoker the vampire, Runny Rotten the witch, and Gummy Garou the (toothless) werewolf. Apart from creating a fun monster story, the author has subtly included lovely life lessons for young readers. Gummy had let his friends and himself down, and when he realised his mistake, he made up for it. Friendship, sharing, accepting when you’ve made a mistake, thinking about consequences, and mending those broken bonds are themes that youngsters can learn from, since life is full of ups and down, and youngsters need to learn how to fix what has gone wrong, and that the solution is within their power. The end of the story includes more fun for young readers when they visit Felipe Femur’s website.