With Halloween fast approaching, I wanted to find a good ‘spooky’ read that was kid friendly. I Need My Monster is an Indi Kid’s Next Pick (Summer 2009) and is also currently being featured in Spooky Books for Kids at Barnes & Noble and Borders during October. So, needless to say, I was very excited to get I Need My Monster and review it. The idea of any kid needing a monster was fascinating to me. Although this may not be your typical monster under the bed story, it’s very empowering to those children who just might be a little leery of monsters.
My boys were all excited to read the book until they read the title. I have three not-so-thrilled about monsters kids. They’ve seen Monsters, Inc. and the new Monsters vs Aliens, but when it comes to bed time . . . let me just say, those three can holler loud and make up innumerable reasons why they need Mom or Dad (usually Mom) to stay in the room. . . until they’re at least 18. I did preview the book before I shared it with my kids, and I was very curious to see their reactions. After approaching with some hesitation, they all sat very still for the whole story. I think I might have heard some nail chewing. You know that silence that comes when you are watching a scary movie through your fingers? Very applicable. My kids couldn’t turn away, and I didn’t want them to. Ethan’s monster experience is unique and the perfect thing to solve my- I mean our- monster issues.
Ethan is a very adorable boy who heads to bed only to find that his monster has checked out for a week. Gabe is the perfect monster and Ethan is practically heart broken. Unable to fall asleep, Ethan summons the courage to ask for a substitute monster. A parade of substitute monsters follow, with Ethan finding a reason to reject every single one of them. We had to agree with his summations, because they worked so ably with the adorable illustrations to get the reader laughing, rolling eyes, and nodding in agreement. Hands down, Gabe is the best monster ever!
My kids, initially hesitant, ended up loving this book. Their immediate responses were mixed and varied, but when I left the book sitting out, none of them could keep their hands off it. My 8 year old, said in a very puzzled voice, “I just don’t get it. Why would any kid actually want a monster?” I could see the wheels turning and some of the magic rubbing off. “Aha!” I thought, “I now have a new way to keep my kids in bed at night. . .”
I remember vividly the night my sister Cari and I went to bed only to notice (once the lights were out and the moonlight had illuminated our room) an object on the floor that neither of us had ever seen before. We were scared stiff because right in the middle of the floor, between the bed and the light switch (exit door), was a violin. No one in our house played violin, or even owned one. So, we were sure it was the work of some sneaky monsters. The problem was, what do you do about it? We debated and debated. Neither of us was willing to dangle our toes over the edge of the bed. We innately knew that toes were monster food, a fact which Amanda clarifies for us all in her book- just in case you forgot that well known child fact. The only solutions we could come up with was that we would have to stay in our bed awake all night and wait for the monster to come get us. Or one of us could sacrifice herself for the good of the group.
If you have read any of our Double Scoop reviews, I’m pretty sure you know what happened next. (Cari you can share your version in the comments if you dare). Cari convinced me that I needed to jump as far as I could to the door (luckily our room was small) and turn on the light as fast as possible before the monster could get me. Once the light was on we would be safe. I sat up in bed, gathering courage, for my death leap. I was sure I was headed to my doom. If a monster could put a violin in the middle of the room without us noticing, then surely, a monster could snatch me up before I carried out my mission. But, of course, I had a serious case of hero worship and knew without a doubt that Cari was worth protecting – worth my sacrifice. So, I teetered on the edge of the bed and leaped with all I was worth, flipped on the switch and was immediately flooded with relief. I was alive! All ten toes were still attached! And, right in the middle of the floor. . . drum roll please. . . was Cari’s blue and red purse, laid out in the perfect shape of a violin. It’s amazing what monsters can accomplish with what they have to work with!
I loved I Need My Monster and highly recommend it. Some parents may be nervous about introducing monsters to their children in the form of bed time stories. But, I would have to argue that kids are born with the capability of inventing monsters- I’ve never met any child without the ability to conjure up crazy things to be scared about. So, if you want to get your kids relaxed and thinking that they are in control of their monsters- or that they can work with their fears to create a great bedtime routine, you’ll be ahead of the ball game.
I Need My Monster is the perfect balance of humor and entertainment and is a great year-round monster story that will definitely spice up your Fall reading list. Check back on Monday, October 12, 2009 for details on my author interview with Amanda Noll and our I Need My Monster giveaway!