Saturday, October 24, 2009

I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll - Book Review

"How would I ever get to sleep without Gabe's familiar scary noises and his spooky green ooze? It was no use. Gabe would be gone for a week and I just had to have a monster." - I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll, illustrated by Howard McWilliam

Monsters - those furry, sometimes scary creatures are favorites of children. Seems kids can't get enough monsters. But here's a good question. What if monsters resided under their beds? What would those monsters look like? What kind of noises would they make?

In Amanda Noll's new picture book, I Need My Monster, little Ethan has a monster under his bed, a monster named Gabe with sharp claws and a long, spiked tail. Ethan likes his monster. He needs his monster. His monster is just scary enough to keep him in bed at night and, after all, that is the point of having a monster. Unfortunately, Ethan's monster Gabe takes a vacation, and Ethan can't get to sleep. He ends up interviewing potential replacements but none of them meet his standards. He doesn't want a bow wearing girl monster or a monster with a ridiculously long tongue. He only wants Gabe.

I Need My Monster shows off the silly and sometimes remotely frightening side of monsters in a fun, teasing way. Scary monsters, humorous monsters, refined monsters -- five monsters with hilarious names (Gabe, Herbert, Ralph, Cynthia, Mack) star in I Need My Monster. The book lends itself well to reading-aloud with silly voices because all the monsters have funny, interesting things to say. Even though the entire story takes place in one location, Ethan's room, artist Howard McWilliam illustrates the story perfectly, from multiple angles and perspectives. His creative images of the monsters capture and exaggerate their distinctive, often comical qualities.

Luckily my preschool daughter has never been afraid of monsters. She knows that they aren't real but just pretend. And actually my daughter likes most of the monsters in the book, all except for Gabe. He is rather scary and he needs to be to keep Ethan in bed. Most kids including my daughter enjoy getting a little scared, so long as they know that all will probably end fine. Author Amanda Noll pretty much knows how far to push the monster bit with kids (except maybe the toe-nibbling, feather pillow eating part). So, here's my advice. Kids that are already scared of monsters or might get scared of monsters should probably wait until they are a little older to read this one, until they can understand the humor. But those monster-loving children? After reading this book, they'll want a monster of their own under their bed.

(The monster under author Amanda Noll's bed is named Gertie. When asked what her monster looks like, Amanda replied, "To me, she’s always had a Loch Ness Monster feel. With a long neck, small head, and a large body that glides through the debris under my bed.")

I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll, illustrated by Howard McWilliam. Flashlight Press (April 2009); 32 pages; ISBN 9780979974625
Book Source: Review copy provided for free by author (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

Just for fun I asked my daughter, "If you had a pretend under-the-bed monster, what would it look like?" She happily answered and here is her description, complete with an illustration just in time for Halloween:

My monster would have orange feet, super sharp claws, and sharp, mighty teeth. It would have red hair (kind of short) and hundreds of legs and 600 arms, 2 sets of ears that look like a bunny and black fur. Sally is her name and she wears sunglasses. She eats rice, beans and chicken nuggets and chocolate cake for dessert.

What does your under-the-bed monster look like? I'm not sure what mine looks like, but he needs my cat to keep him company!

Related Links:
Amanda Noll - Author Website
Howard McWilliam - Illustrator Website
I Need My Monster Make Your Own Monster Craft
I Need My Monster Activity Guide


Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

What wonderful details on your daughter's monster - not only the physical description, but what the monster eats ... how precious!