#MGTakesOnThursday: Leo’s Map of Monsters: The Armoured Goretusk by Kris Humphrey

Image created by @MarySimms72 and used with permission.

This is a weekly meme started and hosted by @marysimms72 on her brilliant Book Craic blog which I urge you to read.

If you love books written for an MG audience and wish to take part, the steps to follow are:

  • Post a picture of a front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence.
  • Write three words to describe the book
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

Author: Kris Humphrey

Illustrator: Pete Williamson

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Favourite sentence from Page 11: 

“Then, there came a knock at the door “

This book in three words: Monsters – Mystery – Ingenuity

This week I thought I would focus on a book aimed at the younger end of the MG readership, the first in a new series published by Oxford University Press: Leo’s Map of Monsters. In this first episode The Armoured Goretusk we are introduced to Leo on the morning of his ninth birthday. Like all the children of his Medieval-looking village he will be given an envelope with his Assignment for the next two years, and fully expects to join his friend Jacob at the Records Office.

However, he is surprised to find a page labelled Top Secret inside the envelope and even more astonished by the visit of the village chief, Gilda, to the small house he shares with his mother and sister. Gilda leads him through a secret passage to the Guardian’s Hut, where he learns that the Wall surrounding his village is not to protect villagers from wolves and bears… but monsters!

The Guardian, Henrick,  is nursing a badly injured leg and therefore sends Leo out into the forest armed with a slingshot, a bag of stones and an enchanted map. Assisted by a small flying Leatherwing named Starla and relying on his own ingenuity, Leo must track the Armoured Goretusk and return it to its herd in the marshland of the Festian Swamps before it attacks the village Wall. 

Kris Humphrey has created an utterly believable world and a relatable main protagonist in Leo, who requires trial and error to get things right which is a great piece of modelling for children who are learning to be resilient. I also liked the way that the story raises questions about what might be going on beneath the narrative. The beautifully expressive illustrations by Pete Williamson add another layer of meaning and I certainly have questions about the shifty look in Henrick’s eyes as he obscures Leo’s view of the collection of Hawkupine quills in his hut! There is a map at the start of the book (always a plus for me) where readers can track Leo’s adventure as it unfolds. Additionally, the illustrations give the impression that they have been drawn in charcoal which ties in neatly with Leo’s birthday present.

 I think that this book will be very appealing to the legions of Beast Quest fans. It has an ideally-sized font for newly confident readers and at 141 pages is the perfect length for those readers that I have seen a blogger I greatly respect refer to as “dormant” – this could be a book to spark the fire of reading for pleasure. Top Trumps-style fact files at the end will, I think, appeal to readers who tend to opt for non-fiction over fiction. There is also a sneak peek at the beginning of the next book in the series, The Spit Fang Lizard which will be eagerly anticipated by those who enjoy this story.

I am most grateful to Oxford University Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

3 thoughts on “#MGTakesOnThursday: Leo’s Map of Monsters: The Armoured Goretusk by Kris Humphrey

  1. I hadn’t heard of this before so thank you for making me aware of it, Veronica. Titles for slightly younger MG readers are important aren’t they. I love Donnalyn Miller’s ‘dormant readers’ description it sounds kinder and more encouraging than reluctant readers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I absolutely agree with you on both counts. I have been using the ‘dormant readers’ description ever since reading it in your recent post. This book has already been given a big thumbs-up by one of ours.


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