Seesaw’s junior reviewers take on a new picture book

8 December 2021

Perth artist Christopher Maxwell created an illustrated book he hoped would bring children joy. Seesaw’s junior reviewers share their responses.

He Was Tremendously Scary and Extraordinarily Hairy, Christopher Maxwell ·
Little Steps Publishing, 2021 ·

Junior review by Asha Rose Robinson Grandage, age 9

He Was Tremendously Scary and Extraordinarily Hairy by Christopher Maxwell is a gentle picture book about a girl and a scary shadow. But the more you see the shadow, the more you realise it isn’t as scary as it looks at first.

It wants to play with her and even wants to help her. But she is worried and frightened. If she is going to make friends with this playful scary shadow creature, she needs to find a way to overcome her fear.

The story is painted in water colour and is set in a beautiful snowy winter land. The girl pulls her sled and ice skates from her cottage through the woods and to a lake, stopping to build snow figures and admire the landscape. Her ladybird friend accompanies her wherever she goes.

The watercolour paintings are really beautiful. Every time you turn a page, the snow has a slightly different colour. Sparkling crystals and beautiful strings of lanterns hang in the landscape, like they are lighting her way. I liked the snow animal creations that the girl makes along the way and that they are covered in swirls and stones.

I think the message of this book is that first impressions of things aren’t always the truth, and also that sometimes the things you think are scary are actually not as scary as they seem.

A watercolour painting of the snowy winter land in Christopher Maxwell’s book. Photo supplied

Review by Eddy Greentree, age 9

This book is about a little girl who finds a monster. The story is told with just pictures and no words. The monster plays hide and seek with the girl without her seeing anything except his scary shadow, then follows her and tries to do sledding and then ice skating. But the ice cracks beneath him and he saves the girl from falling in. When she is safe, she looks through the ice and sees him but doesn’t realize how scary he looks. Then when he hops out of the ice and creeps up behind her, she escapes from his hands and runs home without her sled. The monster realizes that she left her sled and a whole bunch of animals follow him back to the little girl’s house and the little girl realizes that he isn’t scary. The next day they play together in the snow. 

The pictures are very detailed and the distance perspective in the pictures is very good. The landscape is between light and dark, and is extraordinarily beautiful. The front cover doesn’t give away the interesting parts of the story, like the monster. 

I liked the book because little kids can read it too because there are no words.  The reader can imagine the story in lots of different ways. It has beautiful pictures of a snowy Christmas and snow animals made by the girl. It would make a good Christmas present because of the Christmas theme. I think Christopher Maxwell has done a great job making a magnificent all-ages book. 

In Christopher Maxwell’s watercolour paintings sparkling crystals and beautiful strings of lanterns hang in the landscape. Photo supplied

Review by Isabel Greentree, age 12

“It takes courage to try to deal with your troubles by yourself, but a truly brave person askes others for help.”

This story is about how, sometimes, your fears make you miss out on an unlikely opportunity. The story begins with a little girl who ventures further and further out into the snowy forest every day, taking her sled and ice-skates with her. One day she spots a big, dark shadow. The shadow follows her through the forest, and as hard as she tries, she can’t find the source. On her journey she stops and makes snow animals with her bucket and spade. As she comes to a hill, she gets onto her sledge and pushes off. The creature tries to follow her, but slides into a snowbank. A fox watches them curiously. It follows them to the lake, where the girl gets her ice-skates out. The creature tries to skate as well, but the ice can’t support it. As the ice cracks, it pushes the girl to safety. Does it just want to be friends?

Read more about Christopher Maxwell’s new book in “Picture book to help kids face their fears”.

The watercolour art is beautiful and detailed, and makes the main story very clear. It’s very realistic, and makes the story interesting. The scenes of action are done so that they almost look like it would in a movie, with the scenes taken from different angles. Look for the ladybug – it’s in every picture with the little girl in it!

I think this book is appropriate for kids and adults of all ages. It’s a good story for younger kids, since they don’t have to read any words, and they can make up any story to go with it. It’s also good for older kids and adults, because they can appreciate the art, and it is also quite an interesting story. Christopher Maxwell has done a brilliant job with this book. And also, for anyone who gets scared of monsters, things only become monsters if you call them monsters.

He Was Tremendously Scary and Extraordinarily Hairy can be purchased online.

Pictured top: the front cover of Christopher Maxwell’s debut picture book. Photo supplied

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Junior Reviewer

At Seesaw we believe that shows designed for children should be reviewed by children. Our junior reviewers write an honest response, in their own words. Their contributions are a vital part of the arts playground.

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