Billy and the Beast begins with an introduction to our protagonists who differ from expectations: Billy is a girl who keeps snacks in her hair and her sidekick is a fat cat (named Fatcat) who has a noisy tummy.
The format of this story will be familiar to readers of fairy and folk tales: the main characters, on an innocent walk through the forest, encounter trouble in the form of something terrible, in this case it is the Terrible Beast. This terrible beast is very hungry and is looking for ingredients for his Terrible Soup; these include, Billy, Fatcat and their forest friends. Several of my favourite parts occur at the opening of the story when Billy and Fatcat start out on their walk. There is a lovely description of their activities on the journey and it is easy to imagine a parent/child conversation developing around ‘crunching’ and ‘splashing’ through the forest. Another page introduces us to Bill and Fatcat’s forest friends, a chance to discuss what animals you might see on a walk in the woods.
Although the book does not contain much in the way of narrative surprises, the quirky characters and stylish artwork visually engage the reader throughout. A nice story where the bad guy, a rather cute Terrible Beast in this case, gets outsmarted by a plucky young heroine.