Teddy Bears in Monsterland by Justin Sloan
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Teddy Bears in Monsterland is the first book in the Teddy Defenders series by Justin Sloan. The title coupled with the surprisingly hardcore looking teddy bear on the cover were enough to have the 9 year old, the 6 year old, and I giggling and interested to give the audiobook version narrated by Michael Gilliland a listen. And listen we did as we drove around making groceries* and running other errands.
In a world where teddy bears once had to protect their humans from shadows and monsters, years of peace lulls Ari the teddy bear into a false sense of security. But the monsters have once again begun to hide under children’s beds, and one night Rick, Ari’s human boy, and Rick’s little sister are kidnapped right from under Ari’s nose. As Rick’s sworn protector, Ari is duty-bound to venture after him. Along the way he meets a movie-ready cast of characters including Mia, a bagpipe dancing teddy bear who know the ins and outs of the world through the attic, and Klide, a teddy bear living in exile and searching for redemption.
Sloan builds a colorful world filled with action and lots of entertaining touches like a ghoul named Mr. Henderson and what children of the 80’s will surely recognize as a nod to the Care Bear Stare.
Pros: The story is very fast paced and humorously gritty, given that it’s about teddy bears. In many ways it was very reminiscent of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. But with teddy bears. And the funniest part is that it kind of worked.
Cons: Some of the scenes were a bit too intense for the 6 year old and, while I appreciate the story’s pace, I think the screen adaptation could do with the addition of a Pixar-esque montage at the beginning that gives us a clearer picture of the depth of the connection between teddy bears and their humans.
The 9 year old and the 6 year old both give Teddy Bears in Monsterland a solid thumbs
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*Making groceries: A common New Orleans term for grocery shopping.