During the middle 1970s, when I was in either the fourth or fifth grade, I had a teacher (both years, which is why I can't be sure) who routinely read stories to our class during the afternoon.

She read us one, which I believe was a picture-style children's book, not a full novel-length work, and which has bits and pieces stuck in my memory ever since. Hence, my request for help.

The book would have been read to me somewhere between 1974 and 1976, but I don't know if it was a new book then or something that had been around a while. I have no recollection of the author's name at all, if I ever knew it.

I only remember bits, though, so bear with me please.

What I recall is:

  • There may have been a treehouse involved; either the MC(s) ran there, or it started there, but I think the former
  • The monster seemed amorphous, but I think I recall the mouth was described as wide and had rows upon rows of teeth (what self-respecting monster doesn't, after all?)
  • The monster shakes/"rumbles" the ground when it pursues the child(ren); this is how they know it's coming
  • I don't know if I remember accurately or not, but the monster MAY have been chewing through things during the pursuit

I know that isn't much, and I really apologize for not being able to do a better job, but it has been more than 40 years since the book was read to me.

I hope someone can locate the title and author. I'd actually like to see it again, though I believe that possibility slim.

I've done repeated Google searches; alas, the data I can provide has not yielded any results for me. Hopefully someone here has been Google-fu and can find it.

Thank you to anyone for taking the time to search.

  • 1
    Welcome to SFF! Excellent start here. If you have not done so already, would you mind taking take a look at this guide and see if you can remember anything else? I know you have already included quite a bit, but every little bit helps us. Thanks. – amflare Nov 2 '17 at 18:36
  • Thanks so much for the guide, @amflare, much appreciated! Unfortunately, I've done as much of the suggested list as I'm able at this point. BUT, I will come back and update if anything else comes to me. Thank you again! – Josh Nov 2 '17 at 18:40
  • 5th grade is probably too old, but maybe it was an early Mercer Mayer book like "One Monster After Another." I could see you conflating a menagerie-style book with shape-shifting. It probably was in the Scholastic Book club catalogs, but I don't recall for certain. – Yorik Nov 2 '17 at 19:29
  • 4
    So, it's not the Sesame Street book The Monster at the End of this Book, featuring Grover. First thing I thought of.... – RDFozz Nov 2 '17 at 20:25
  • 1
    I am thinking 5th-grade level means a short novel with illustrations: I had to read Hemingway and William Golding in 6th grade (c. 1980). Definitely not going to be Grover :) – Yorik Nov 2 '17 at 20:32

It might just be The Phantom Tollbooth. Your memory of it is the ending.

  • The Treehouse seems to be the Castle In The Air. The children run both to and from it.

  • The amorphous moster with the teeth:

    "Naturally," the giant replied in a more normal voice (but even this was like an explosion). "I have no shape of my own, so I try to be just like whatever I'm near. In the mountains I'm a lofty peak, on the beach a broad sand bar, in the forest a towering oak, and sometimes in the city I'm a very handsome twelve-story apartment house. I just hate to be conspicuous; it's really not safe, you know." Then he looked at them again with hungry eyes and wondered how well they'd taste.

  • and

    Next to him, but just a little behind, came the Gross Exaggeration, whose grotesque features and thoroughly unpleasant manners were hideous to see, and whose rows of wicked teeth were made only to mangle the truth. They hunted together, and were bad luck to anyone they caught.

  • The Phantom Tollbooth was regularly read out loud to fifth graders, and although not a picture book, it is famous for its vivid illustrations.

  • 1
    Wow, thank you so much! I can't verify this is or isn't the right book yet, but I'll try to do so before the bounty expires. If no one else answers (and it's unlikely), I'll award you the bounty even if I can't confirm. – Josh Apr 17 '18 at 15:27
  • @Josh Was i right? I'm in suspense! – TheAsh says Reinstate Monica Apr 18 '18 at 12:16
  • I still don't know, but the bounty is going to expire and this is the only answer, so I'll give it to you! :) Thank you for your help! – Josh Apr 18 '18 at 16:45
  • @Josh Did you ever confirm this? – TheAsh says Reinstate Monica Aug 31 at 17:52
  • Nope, couldn't ever confirm. But thanks for giving it a good try. :) – Josh Sep 3 at 6:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.