ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Monster in the Basement Book: Harry and The Terrible Whatzit

Updated on March 23, 2012
Click thumbnail to view full-size

Buy Harry and The Terrible Whatzit Online

Harry and the Terrible Whatzit
Harry and the Terrible Whatzit

English Hardcover Edition

 

Harry is sure something terrible is waiting down in the cellar, and furthermore, he is sure it has gotten his mother. What he encounters is "a double-headed, three-clawed, six-toed, long-horned whatzit."

This classic book about a child facing his fears was originally published in 1977. The charming illustrations are ink pen line drawings with orange and brown ink printing. The characters, though obviously from a different era, are visually appealing. There is something almost bucolic about Harry's mother in her kerchief, glasses, and short hair picking flowers in the garden.

Harry and the Terrible Whatzit is a mid-length story with an easy-to-follow story line. The young hero of the story will do just about anything to find his mother, and so, we find him broom-in-hand in battle with the giant two-headed monster. Each time Harry swats the Whatzit with his broom, it grows smaller and smaller, shrinking in size until the monster has to escape to Sheldon Parker's house down the street.

This book from the 1970s is a childhood favorite of mine. I loved the rhythmic sound of repeating the Whatzit's name, and I enjoyed the story where Harry the child beats the silly (but scary-looking) monster in the basement.

But what about now? I almost hesitate to recommend this book to other parents and teachers because it shows a little boy hitting someone (or something) else. And hitting isn't a message I want to send to the little boys out there.

But in the context of this story, is hitting such a bad thing? Harry is depicted on the front cover with a pail on his head and a wooden sword in his hand, suggesting the chivalry required of a knight fighting a dragon. And like a young knight, Harry faces down his own fears to go looking for his mother, even if he is afraid of what is down in the basement. That takes both courage and bravery, and even a certain amount of self-sacrifice.

Are my concerns unfounded? Probably not. This is a different time than the 1970s, and many parents are justifiably concerned about the way violence is portrayed in the media. And impressionable young children are apt to mimic their heroes. I think this particular book may be a controversial addition to your storytime program, and therefore I feel you as the teacher need to be forewarned.

Would I read it to my own children? Yes. Maybe it's nostalgia for my own childhood. Maybe it's the sure knowledge that this book didn't damage ME or make me turn to violence. As I said, this was MY FAVORITE children's book.

I would never recommend that any person ban a book. But I recommend you read this book for yourself before you share it in a classroom setting.

Book Themes

  • Monsters
  • Facing fears
  • Mothers
  • Love
  • Bravery
  • Courage
  • Adversity
  • Fighting

     

 

Using this Book as a Read-Aloud Selection

Toddlers

I would think about a younger audience's reaction to the monster in the story. Is he too frightening for a 2-year old? Mine wouldn't like the Whatzit at all! Not recommended for this younger age group. Was your child frightened by the pictures in Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are? This may be a good measure for you.

Preschoolers

This fantasy story is an appealing read-aloud for the older preschool crowd. Each of the characters have distinctive parts, which makes reading with "voices" a very appealing way to present this book.

Early Elementary Ages

This age group is ready for some critical thinking about the story. Questions you might explore in a reading with this age group: How would you describe Harry at the beginning of the book? What about the end? What changed? What are you afraid of?

Lesson Planning Ideas

Harry and the Terrible Whatzit lends itself to a monster-themed presentation. This is a good way to do a Halloween-related storytime without focusing on the holiday, which is not celebrated in some communities.

Music and Movement

Begin your story hour with your favorite song. In a once-a-week classroom setting, such as a library story hour, It is a good idea to sing the same song for at least a month, so that children have a chance to learn the words and actions. Some suggestions include:

  • If You're Happy and You Know It (Clap Your Hands)
  • Do Your Ears Hang Low?
  • Itsy-Bitsy Spider
  • More monster songs at the PreschoolEducation website.

Play a Circle Game

  • Boy, Girl, Monster. In this modification of the traditional duck, duck, goose game, the child who is selected to be it gets to pretend to be a monster while trying to catch the person who is trying to get into an empty seat. Be prepared for some screaming and squealing!

Transition

Say this rhyme to the children, and have them follow along:

Reach up high (reach arms up in the air)

touch the sky

Now reach down (reach down and touch the ground)

without a sound

sit on your seat (sit on the ground or in a chair)

don't make a peep!

Shhh! (Whisper this part, with finger to lips)

My hands are fast asleep!

Read-Aloud

Tell the children you are going to read a story about a monster and a boy named Harry today. Show the children the front cover. Read each of the words of the title. If your children are pre-literate, ask them what letter of the alphabet "Harry" begins with. Point to the letter "H" in Harry's name. Do this with the word "Whatzit".

Flip the book over and show the children the back cover. Ask them to look at the monster. Does he look scary or afraid? What about the boy? Is he afraid or brave?

Read through the story. At the end, when Harry find's his mother's glasses, ask the children where they think she is.

Finish reading the book.

Craft/Activities

Choose one of these activiies, as approprate for your age group.

Costume Parade

If you are reading this book as part of a Halloween theme, you might consider having a costume parade. Many parents of preschoolers bringing their children in costume. Have the children march around the library, classroom, or preschool. This is a lot of fun.

Monster Draw

This idea was shared on the AtoZTeacherStuff blog site: Read the story once to the children without showing them the pictures. Ask the children to listen for describing words, then draw a picture of the Whatzit. You may need to read the story twice. This idea is probably more appropriate in a 6 and up age group.

Make a Monster

Give children wiggle eyes, yarn, markers, buttons, and other materials to make their own monster face. Have the children give the monster its own name.

More Children's Books About Monsters and Facing Fears

  • There's a Nightmare In My Closet by Mercer Mayer
  • There's an Alligator Under my Bed by Mercer Mayer
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Edward R Emberle

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    Kim 

    10 years ago

    I too fell in love with this book as a young child. It helped me overcome my fear of the dark and scary monsters lurking in the basement. Over the years I have quoted the book with my family and just recently got my hands on my very own copy. A beloved book with a message of courage for all ages!

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)