Written by Bertrand Santini and illustrated by Laurent Gapaillard
Translated by Antony Shugaar
A very funny and cheerfully subversive chapter book about a monster who eats children—until one day he makes a friend.
The Yark loves children . . . with the love of a gourmand! This hairy monster dreams of child buffets—ham of boy, orphan gratin, breaded babies, girl rillettes.
But he has a problem: his delicate stomach can only tolerate nice children; liars give him heartburn and savages spoil his teeth. There are not nearly enough good, edible children around to keep him from starvation.
Then the Yark finds sweet Madeleine. Will he gobble her up? Or will she survive long enough to change his life?
New York Public Library, Best Books for Kids 2018
Recommended for 8-12 years.
Hardcover, 80 pages.
The Yark: a child-chomping beast stalks through suburban bedrooms across the globe looking for a decent meal. An edge-of-your-seat story for readers with a hardy constitution Little ones who are afraid of the dark might do well to steer clear of The Yark (Gecko Press, £6.99, 6+), a sinister tale by Bertrand Santini, in which a child-chomping beast stalks through suburban bedrooms across the globe looking for a decent meal. 'Boys in bacon, orphan gratin, chicken-fried children, breaded babies, leg of twins, brats in a bun': he isn't fussy. The problem, however, is that naughty children give him indigestion, and good children are hard to come by. 'Ah, how monsters yearn for the good old days!' he laments. 'Once upon a time, children were tender and innocent [but] modern times produces almost no edible children.' However, the Yark is clever as well as fierce and he has an ingenious idea: to steal Santa's list of saints and sinners and track some well-behaved children down. What he hasn’t anticipated is the good children's ultimate defence – misbehaviour – and when the Yark comes to call, they relish the opportunity to be naughty, leaving him with a very tender tummy.
Translated from Italian by Anthony Shugaar, there is a distinctly European flavour to this scary fairytale, which does not compromise on style or sensibility. It does, however, offer a happy ending, which is also a lesson in friendship and compromise. Laurent Gapaillard's black and white pencil sketches have a Sendakian quality and add an extra level of appeal, creating a look for the beast that is both fierce and friendly. The Yark is an edge-of-your-seat story for newly independent readers with a hardy constitution.—Website
"Poor Yark. For centuries, he has feasted on the flesh of tiny, innocent kids, but modern times produce fewer and fewer edible children, since his gut simply can't handle brats or bullies. An ill-selected supper of a teasing older brother gives the monster a 'demonic case of diarrhea' that rockets him into the sky, sending him into space until he eventually crashes into a lighthouse. That lighthouse houses Madeleine, a virtuous child the likes of which the Yark has rarely encountered—she's so sweet, in fact, that the Yark can't bring himself to eat her. The storytelling in this import has a Dahl-esque deadpan element that mocks any kind of morality play for kids, and there's plenty of subversive glee in the casual talk of farts, poop, boogers, etc. The intricate black and white illustrations are detailed and textured with hatching, reminiscent of Sendak at times in its monster take and its engraving-indebted style. For all the book's bravado of rebelliousness, it concludes on an endearing note; readers who revel in potty humor and/or those that appreciate an earned happy ending will find much to love here."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"This monster tale is not for the fainthearted; nor is it for those with no heart at all. The Yark lurking within its pages is a hulking, enormously fanged creature with batlike wings sprouting from his shaggy back, whose diet consists exclusively of well-behaved children. And though he daydreams of decapitated dogooders, the Yark is not without a conscience. He'd much rather feast upon miscreants, but his sensitive stomach won't allow it. When he accidentally devours a despicable child, a powerful flatulence blasts the monster into an abandoned lighthouse, which a girl named Madeleine calls home. He awakens, tucked in her bed, to the unfamiliar sight of a mouthwatering child concerned for his welfare. Against all odds, Madeleine becomes the Yark's friend, rather than his dinner, setting in motion a fundamental change within the beast. Gapaillard's detailed black-ink illustrations perfectly encapsulate the story's blend of horror and humor and call to mind Maurice Sendak's Wild Things. It won’t be every child's cup of tea, but Dahl fans will adore Santini's off-kilter take on changing one's stripes."—Booklist
"A satiric romp meant for children but perhaps best appreciated by their parents, especially those who shy away from discipline. The Yark is a beastly creature who devours children, chomping their bones. But never fear! He only eats good children and there are few of them these days. It is getting more and more difficult, nearly impossible even, to find a delectable good child, as the Yark encounters increasing numbers of rude, impudent, lazy, slothful, and mean kids. Finally, the Yark meets Madeleine, the perfect child, simply golden in comparison to the rest—but he hasn't the heart to devour her. There is much to love in this cautionary tale. Gapaillard's illustrations are sublime, capturing the heart of the creature as he gazes on young Madeleine with eyes filled with admiration, or maybe hunger. The Yark is the best type of monster: a large, somewhat rude beast with a smart mouth, razor-sharp wit, epicurean tastes, and a love so big it makes his heart hurt and his stomach empty. VERDICT This may be too tongue-in-cheek for younger children who tend to the literal. Suggest for one-on-one sharing where parents are looking for a gentle and humorous moral tale."—School Library Journal
Laurent Gapaillard is a graphic designer who studied at ESAG Penninghen and has collaborated on feature films, animated television series, and video games. He lives in France.