Monster Beach and The Missing Mummy are part of the Mighty Mighty Monsters series of easy reader graphic novels. The series covers a group of monsters when they are young and at school together in Transylmania. The simple stories are relatable daily adventures like going on a class field trip to a museum and a day at the beach. In both stories, the gang makes a new monster friend during their explorations of the world and helps that friend overcome some obstacle.
While most of the monsters are classic Western monsters like the grim reaper, Frankenstein (actually Frankenstein’s monster, but what’s in a name?), Dracula, and the like, the series spices it up by adding Kitsune, a Japanese fox girl. Of course, the Japanese inspiration may not translate to everyone since Kitsune looks more like Anne of Green Gables than anything out of Japanese folklore. However, I did appreciate the nod to other traditional mythology.
The art is very CGI with images in the middle of the action. This means that there are a lot of mouth-open shots of the cast, sometimes giving a feeling of TV screenshots and sometimes distracting me with funny faces. The monsters themselves are very safe, sometimes comical representations of the scary grown-ups they will become. For example, Wolf Boy is portrayed very puppy like, chowing down on some dog food when he gets a break from the action.
Overall, the tales are fairly predictable, which would make them very comfortable for the young age group at whom they are aimed. While this means that they may not always be the most exciting stories, there still are fun moments. The series gives good starter graphic novels that might grab reluctant early readers, even providing some discussion questions and writing prompts after each story. There are also mini features about the new monsters introduced in the stories including their character details and short biographical facts. The series is a good starter set for early elementary readers.
Mighty Mighty Monsters
by Sean O’Reilly
Art by Arcana Studio
The Missing Mummy
Stone Arch Books, 2012