Book Review: The Yark by Bertrand Santini

The Yark by Bertrand Santini is a 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 gourmet! This hairy monster dreams of child buffets--ham of boy, orphan gratin, breaded babies, and so on. 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?
The Yark is not for the sensitive reader, because it does start of with how much the Yark like to eat children, and how he goes about it. There are some illustrations through the book, all in black and white pencil work, and they do a good job of drawing the reader in more, and helping them picture exactly what the author intends. The exploits of our Yark, who is a softie but quite hungry, are fantastic and silly, with a few moments that will scare some. Stealing the nice list from Santa gives him a road map to find tasty children to eat, but it never goes quite he was. He is tricked, accidentally eats a bad child- resulting in extreme distress. That is until Madeleine cares for him and they become the best of friends despite all odds. It is love that the Yark attempts to leave, only to suffer horribly but lose the need to eat good children and start on the path to change, with Madeleine's support of course. There is a life lesson to be had, and plenty to think about. It is not quite what I was expecting- although I am not sure what I was expecting anyway. It was interesting, and a little harsher than I expected in some ways. 
The Yark is not necessarily for just children, and is certainly not for those that do not like some horror or mayhem in their reading. Like the original fairy tales, there is plenty of darkness here, and a higher level read that I was really expecting. I would think middle grade readers with a liking for horror, and older readers, will get much more out of this read than younger children. 
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