Hakim, a donkey, heads out to visit his friend Daisy, who lives on the top of a mountain, so that he can give her the sweater he knitted. The mountain is covered in a thick fog and said to be riddled with monsters. “You’re doomed!” yells a goat as Hakim begins his journey, establishing a comically eerie tone to the whole affair.
When Hakim sees a strange figure in the fog, he wonders if the old goat was right. From a distance, the outline of the figure is enveloped in mist, and it appears to be a robot-esque monstrosity. But when Hakim and the figure draw closer, the “monster” turns out to be a dog carrying a pallet of bricks on her head. The friendly dog joins Hakim on his journey up the mountain.
Twice more, the fog tricks the travelers into thinking that they see monsters on the path ahead, but each time, they’re proven wrong and a new companion joins the party. Ultimately, the group realizes that “everything looks like a monster in the fog. . . . But the closer you get, the less scary it becomes.”
Understated humor has never been so laugh-out-loud funny as in Ali Bahrampour’s Monsters in the Fog. The moderate absurdity of a dog carrying a pile of bricks on her head is one thing, but the final “monster” tops them all. In the fog, it appears as a massive skull until the page turn reveals the gloriously ridiculous truth: It’s a bear on a tricycle, careening down the mountain on her way to a repair shop to get the brakes fixed. Even better is the way she manages to stop long enough to meet the group: “A rock helped her out,” we read as the tricycle is wedged into a large stone, sending the bear flying through the air.
Bahrampour presents this perfectly paced, playful tale in muted watercolors and a lively cartoon style that’s reminiscent of the work of Jon Agee and William Steig. The reveals steal the show, but readers will also love Hakim’s sweet devotion to Daisy, who is responsible for her own surprising reveal at the book’s close. It may be difficult for a donkey to knit a sweater, but Hakim knows that his struggles with knitting needles and monsters alike are worth it for a friend.