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.
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