The creatures of our imaginations are real—and they play games and have contests just like us! So begins The Yeti Files: Monsters on the Run, the second in the illustrated chapter book series by Kevin Sherry. Blizz, a techno-savvy Yeti and leader of a band of legendary cryptids including a gnome and a goblin, set out with his pals to visit lonely Vanessa (also known as the Loch Ness Monster) and introduce her to some dinosaur friends. The crew travels back in time to help their friend, narrowly avoiding becoming dinosaur snacks. Friendships are made, catastrophes avoided, and the crew makes it back to their base with a dangerous surprise.
The Yeti Files: Monsters on the Run is a fun illustrated chapter book for elementary readers. Without panels or speech bubbles, following the text is an exercise in following clues, like text size and orientation. Some of the text moves the narrative along with plot, while other bits of text serve to fill in gaps in the reader’s knowledge. This works for me as a reader, as it mimics the kind of dialogic reading one might use when reading aloud to an audience. For younger readers, it helps fill in background knowledge and highlight vocabulary: “In case you didn’t know, a scrimmage is a duel, a battle” (page 5). This kind of non-linear, non-paragraph text combines with the illustrations in a way that’s evocative of a child’s annotated drawing, complete with arrows and explanations. The effect for me is cute and age appropriate. It might even lead to copycat illustrated stories by readers!
Sherry’s illustrations are Cute with a capital C. His big eyed creatures are almost instantly recognizable for what they are; readers will draw on their own knowledge of different cryptids and mythological creatures without much explanation from the text. As one would hope, the illustrations and the text work hand in hand to further the story. The varied illustration-text combos keep the reader guessing and turning the page; it’s definitely not a standard picture book format. One of my favorite parts in the whole story is Sherry’s use of a “Chekhov’s gun” situation: a drawing of the cutest kitten ever that saves the day in a big way.
The biggest challenge for this book is where you put it on your shelves. It’ll be a hit with readers of Big Nate, Jedi Academy, and Captain Underpants. Include this title wherever you shelve illustrated chapter books and graphic novel hybrids. The Yeti Files series is a great bridge to non-fiction titles to let elementary age readers explore their curiosity about yetis, Bigfoot, unicorns, the Loch Ness monster, and many other mythological beasts.
The Yeti Files: Monsters on the Run, vol. 2
by Kevin Sherry
Scholastic Press, 2015
Publisher Age Rating: 7-10