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Book NewsBy Esther Callens

Tu Books (an offspring of Lee and Low Books) has made available a wonderful title that middle graders will surely enjoy. The Monster in the Mudball is a wildly adventurous tale that makes the perfect finale for this autumn season. Written by award winning children’s author S. P. Gates, her latest offers an unforgettable exciting, hilarious and thrilling experience.
Perfected for ages 7 through 11, The Monster in the Mudball is a selection on the Junior Library Guild listing.  It is an age appropriate tale consisting of fantasy, mystery and the unexplainable – attributes that easily captures the attention of this genre of readers. It also incorporates different cultures (African and Asian) as an enrichment tool.
Eleven year old Jin Aaron Sparks aka Jin has got to save his family from the ancient monster that has gotten loose in their England hometown. Jin’s baby brother finds a mudball in a family friend’s house and starts playing with it – until it sprouts legs and runs away. Jin sees this and chases after it as he is curious to what sort of thing is it.  He soon crosses path with Mizz Z, the chief inspector of ancient artifacts. She informs him that she is there to make sure the dangerous mudball is secure as it contains a monster.
Jin tells Mizz Z of the unfortunate events and they soon find that they have to save Jin’s baby brother from the giant monster named Zilombo that likes to keep fresh babies on its menu. This task is not easy as Zilombo is just as clever as it is powerful and Jin, Mizz Z and Frankie (Jin’s older sister) must find out how to beat it at its own game.
The Monster in the Mudball is a fascinating tale that stretches young reader’s imagination beyond it limits. It is also a wonderful literary tool for any classroom.
S. P. Gates has authored over 100 youth books. She is the recipient of the UK Carnegie Medal and the Sheffield Children’s Book Award. As a former educator, she taught in Africa as well as in England. She and her husband makes England home.