Mo Willems will capture the children’s attention (especially boys) with his book, Leonardo the Terrible Monster.  I find the illustrations interesting as he uses the negative space to add to the mood of the characters, Leonardo and Sam.  I know most of the time we focus on the text of a book, but in this case, I think it would be interesting to hear what the children’s thoughts are in regards to the illustrations.   Although I am not an art teacher, I do believe that young children can share so much through their illustrations. 

I recently have been reading a book about boys and literacy called Bright Beginnings for Boys.  One specific quote has struck me and I’ve been noticing the books a little differently. 

  Leonardo, the Terrible Monster (Ala Notable Children's Books. Younger Readers (Awards))


“It is not just the illustrations or the text.  It is the combination of the two that enhances the comprehension.  Synergy.”


 Mo Willems combines the illustrations and text to create the synergy that will enhance the comprehension in boys.  He uses colors that appeal to boys.  The use of quick conversational text mirrors typical young male verbal interaction.  All in all, it’s a great text that the children in your class will enjoy.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Leonardo the Terrible Monster:

  • Asterisk – uses the punctuation to teach a footnote:  1,642*  *Note:  Not all teeth shown
  • Reference – showing that research takes time and use of several resources; Mo uses his illustrations to help support this point
  • 2 page spread – Sam is wailing his heart out; his older brother picks on him.
  • Bully – kids definitely can relate to this issue of being picked on – either by a sibling or with students in school
  • Character change – The decision Leonardo makes would be a great springboard for discussing the change that he made (Why did he choose to change?  How will this relationship help him?  How does this apply to us?)

(PES Library; Warsaw Library)


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