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Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Ruffleclaw is a red, four-armed earth monster who lives under a toolshed. He likes taking things from the human home above him and thinks the piano music he often hears coming from the house is wonderful. His neighbors, Shaggystink and Wormtooth, complain about the awful human smell coming from Ruffleclaw’s burrow. One day, Ruffleclaw decides he’s tired of admiring human life from afar. He wants to live in a human home. The easiest way to do this, he decides, is to sneak into the bed of a human boy named Tommy.

Tommy is startled to wake up and find a monster in his bed, but Ruffleclaw makes no effort to leave. The rude little monster spits and destroys Tommy’s radio while eating dried worms from the can he brought along. Tommy initially tries to hide Ruffleclaw from his mother by locking him in the closet. While Tommy and his mother are gone, Ruffleclaw eats nearly everything in the refrigerator and plinks on the piano keys. Tommy’s mother discovers the monster and begins to chase him with a spear Dad brought home from an African adventure. Ruffleclaw goes back to his burrow, surrendering his dream of living with humans.

Tommy suddenly realizes how much he misses the obnoxious creature. He launches a plan involving guilt and manipulation to get his mother to let him retrieve the monster. Tommy whines and threatens to starve himself. He flatters Mom by telling her how much Ruffleclaw loves her piano playing. Mom finally gives in, and Tommy convinces Ruffleclaw to come back. The monster and Tommy’s mother eye each other suspiciously for a while. Then their love of music brings them together. Tommy’s mother is amazed at what a four-handed monster can do musically.

Dad returns early and surprises everyone. He immediately begins to sneeze, allergic to Ruffleclaw. The monster plucks three tail hairs and tells Dad to keep them in his pocket. Suddenly, Dad’s itching and sneezing are gone. Ruffleclaw’s neighbors come for a short visit. Their rude, obnoxious behavior makes Mom regret offering the invitation. Tommy catches Ruffleclaw leaving and fears the monster is going away forever. The creature promises he’s only going to get more worms and will return shortly.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Tommy’s father is a guide who is often away while he takes people around the world. Tommy’s mother, a piano teacher, is initially opposed to the idea of a monster living in the house. She allows Tommy’s manipulation and Ruffleclaw’s flattery to change her mind. She eventually invites Ruffleclaw’s other monster friends to visit their home and teaches Ruffleclaw to play piano.


Tommy calls Ruffleclaw an idiot once. Ruffleclaw sometimes expresses his frustration by uttering exclamations such as Mousepoop!



Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Lying/Manipulation: Tommy lies to his mother several times so she won’t find out about Ruffleclaw. Readers learn he has tricked her into believing he’s sick so he can miss a math test in the past. He also mentions she is very easy to guilt-trip, and he tries to use this vulnerability to get her to let him keep Ruffleclaw. He even threatens to go on a hunger strike if he can’t keep the monster.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

7 to 10


Cornelia Funke






Record Label



Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC (originally published in Germany in 2005)


On Video

Year Published





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