Perfect Picture Book Friday-Spike the Mixed-up Monster

Susanna Leonard Hill features Perfect Picture Book Friday on her blog. This is a wonderful resource if you are wondering what books to give as gifts, needing material for a lesson, or just looking for a great book to read. Here is a list of books by category. Each book listed has a link to a review, information about that book, and resources for activities. There is also an alphabetical list.

Today I am going to review a book that I noticed on display at the library a couple of weeks ago. Yes…I was judging a book by the cover. It was too cute to leave on display. It had to come home with me.

Spike the Mixed-up Monster

Written by Susan Hood

Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books 2012

Ages 4 and up

Themes: Friendship, Kindness, Endangered  Species

Synopsis: (from Susan Hood’s website) Spike was a monster. Or so he thought. He’d shake his spikes, swoosh his tail, and bare his teeth. But el patoel armadillo and el campañol weren’t afraid. All they could do was laugh at Spike. Until one day a real monster appeared…. This book, about the power of kindness, is based on a real endangered Mexican salamander called an axolotl. It includes facts about the animals and a glossary of Spanish words.

Lines From the Book: I usually include beginning lines in my reviews, but I wanted to show how Spanish is incorporated. Notice that Spanish words are italicized in the text of the book.

One look, and the animals knew what to do.
“¡El monstruo!” quacked el pato. “Flap and fly! Flap and fly!”
“¡El monstruo!” cried el armadillo. “Dig and hide! Dig and hide!”
“¡El monstruo!” said el campañol. “Run inside! Run inside!”
Only Spike was left to face el monsturo.

Resources: This book provides a great opportunity to discuss endangered species and follow up with activities  Discuss endangered species and then write Animal Poems (guidelines HERE). Find coloring pages for endangered species HERE. Online matching game for endangered species HERE. Learn more animal names in Spanish HERE and HERE. HERE is an online flashcard activity to learn animal names in Spanish. HERE is a recent article in New York Times about the plight of the axolotl.

Why I Like This Book: This story is a delightful tale of friendship. I love that is has Spanish sprinkled throughout. Not only will kids enjoy the story, they will love learning the Spanish words. Also, at the back is a nonfiction section. It tells about the axolotl, which is an endangered salamander. Spike is an axolotl. The other animals in the book are featured in the nonfiction section, too. Then, there is a Spanish glossary to go along with the words in the book. I thought this was an exceptional format. And I can’t leave out the fact that Melissa Sweet is the illustrator. She brings the text to life with illustrations that are vibrant and beautiful! After all…it is the cover that caught my eye!

29 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday-Spike the Mixed-up Monster

  1. What a wonderful choice for PPBF, Penny! Thanks for the great review and the wonderful resource list! Another book that showcases kindness…among other things…just in time for Thanksgiving…love it. 😉


    1. Hi, Vivian! Glad you stopped by for my review. I was very excited to find this book. A lot of times the ones on display may catch my eye, but once I read them…I know ithey’re not a PPBF candidate. This…awesome!


  2. What a fascinating combination of themes, from storyline to nonfiction to language. Great share!


  3. I read Kathy Temean’s review, too, and the picture of the actual salamander is adorable. I’m definitely putting this on my list. Thanks, Penny!


  4. What a great sounding book! Thanks, Penny! … even tho the disk jockey in my brain read the title and promptly said, “I don’t have a song about Spike the Mixed-Up Monster, will Puff the Magic Dragon do?” I’ll be singing it for quite some time. Maybe I’ll make up words about Spike, instead. 🙂


    1. Dear Beth–
      I love your idea of using a song. Melissa Sweet and I are recommending a Spike song in the curriculum guide we have in the works. It’s sung to the tune of “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.”
      “If you’re a monster and you know it, swoosh your tail…” Then it continues with “shake your spikes” in round two and “bare your teeth” in round 3.
      If you come up with lyrics to the Puff song, I’d love to hear them!
      Susan Hood


  5. Oo, there is so much to love about this book and I have to get my manos on it. Love all the activities and extras, Penny!


    1. Thanks, Joanna, And you may have noticed in the comments that the author and illustrator, Susan Hood and Melissa Sweet will have several activities soon.I will add the link when they get them completed.


  6. I love your review and this book! Thank you so much. I saw this title on the Cybils list, but didn’t know what to make for it. I love the story of friendship, the inclusion of spanish words, and that it has factual information too. I hope my library has it.


  7. Penny, thanks for recommending this book. I love that it has spanish words in the reading text and the illustration looks adorable. I think it will make a terrific read for my little ones.


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