Book: Godzilla vs. Kong: Sometimes Friends Fight (But They Always Make Up)


Godzilla vs. Kong: Sometimes Friends Fight

English Book Title

Godzilla vs. Kong: Sometimes Friends Fight (But They Always Make Up)


Kate B. Jerome (illustrations by Carol Herring)


Insight Kids Play Pop





By: Nicholas Driscoll

I am not really qualified to review Godzilla vs. Kong: Sometimes Friends Fight (But They Always Make Up), given that I am not waddling around in diapers, nor do I have any rugrats of my own. Still, back in the day I did review other children’s books like GODZILLA: Attack of the Baby Godzillas and Godzilla Likes to Roar, and if anything I was even less qualified to review those at the time. At least now I think I have matured a little bit and have spent more time reading children’s books to kids. It makes me itch a little that this book hasn’t been reviewed yet on our site (and yes I know I am woefully behind on MANY other titles as well), so I wanted to take a literal baby step in the right direction to remedy that lack. Plus Godzilla vs. Kong is really cute—way cuter than I expected from a simple counting book.

The story, such as it is, follows Godzilla and Kong as they play in various places around the world, whether climbing the Empire State Building in New York or the Eiffel Tower in Paris, swinging on the St. Louis Gateway Arch, or playing hide-and-go-seek in a forest. There is no real narrative drive, just a brief text describing what the monsters are doing, and an instruction to count some arbitrary thingamajig on each page, moving up from one to ten.

That’s really the concept, but it’s executed much better than I expected. The basic elements that teach kids counting are fun and helpful for learning tots, and the narrative nuggets are there to give children nudges in the right direction for healthy relationships. There are also several puns that may not register with kids at first, but show creativity on the part of the writers—like when the book says that “A good friend is someone you can count on” while showing Kong counting down while Godzilla is off finding a place to hide. The fact that the monsters are bopping around the world ties in slightly with the action from the film, which also featured a bit of globe-hopping (albeit certainly not to places like France). The book inserts Godzilla’s ability to light up his back fins in an imaginative way, too. Even Mechagodzilla appears on an early page, possibly spoiling the movie for some, but providing an extra monster for the fans.

The art from New Zealand illustrator Carol Herring (who has an adorable website called Happy Draws filled with some of her pieces, including several religious works) is filled with simple but richly colored and shaded art. I love the shadows on the monsters that give them depth and their clean, cheerful kids’ book look. The button eyes are charm-central. She even finds a way to incorporate city destruction without expressly showing the monsters crushing things up (and perhaps inviting kids to do the same without meaning to).

Now it has been pointed out by others that the title is misleading. I expected that the book might teach kids how to make up after a fight, but nobody actually DOES fight in the book. Kong avoids a conflict with Godzilla by deflecting into a game of rock-paper-scissors, and that’s as close as it gets. In fact, we get the monsters treating one another with respect, and Godzilla helping Kong take a tree out of his foot (perhaps the weakest illustration in the book, because at first I thought maybe G was wiping Kong’s sole instead). I wonder if the book had a different concept at first before it shifted into counting, but the title stayed (kind of like how the artwork shifted from cute on the cover to scary inside with Godzilla Likes to Roar due to demands from Toho to make all the kaiju look ferocious at the time, according to an interview with artist Bob Eggleton).

Still, the book feels quality, and is part of a line called Play Pop with other kid-book adaptations based on properties like Ghostbusters and Jurassic World—even a book teaching kids Klingon vocab! The fact that the book is made with sturdy cardboard pages makes it a perfect gift for the very young as well—when I gave my copy of Do Your Best, Chibi Godzilla to a friend’s infant daughter (with my own translation of the text), she quickly tore out one of the pages. That ain’t happening with this brick, which could be used to kill any resident rodents lurking in the walls if the kid is fast enough. Anyway, while Kong and Me is I think the clear winner of the two Godzilla vs. Kong kids’ books given its huge size, better story, and outsized lovable charm, I still think Sometimes Friends Fight is unfairly overlooked. For what it is, this monster cardboard book nearly counts all the way to ten in quality while teaching kids to do the same.