Flashlight Press - Children's (Ages 5 & up)
Okay, I'm just going to come right out and say it. I Need My Monster is my absolute favorite, so far, in today's book pile. It's funny, clever and the illustrations are fabulous. Adults will want to just sit and stare, taking in the detail -- even the angles the illustrator used are fascinating.
I Need My Monster turns the typical "monster under the bed" story concept on its head. Instead of a child who is worried about monsters, the protagonist, Ethan, is used to his monster, Gabe. Gabe is the perfect amount of scary - enough to keep Ethan in bed but not enough to keep him from sleeping. When Gabe leaves a note saying he's gone fishing for a week, Ethan is horrified. How will he sleep without Gabe's ragged breathing and the scary claws that remind him it's best to stay tucked in for the night?
Ethan decides he needs another monster, so he knocks on the floor and another monster appears. Unfortunately, Ethan is not satisfied. Gabe has scary claws that scratch the floor. This monster, Herbert, does not. His name isn't quite right, either. Herbert leaves and another monster appears. The next one has polished claws and tidy fur. Not good enough. The third has scary claws and a slimy tail but Ethan is horrified to see a bow on the tale. He needs a boy monster, not a girl monster!
Ethan wonders if he'll ever find a decent replacement for Gabe.
Was I being too picky? NO!
I knew that my new monster needed to be
well-clawed and menacing.
The whole point of having a monster, after all,
was to keep me in bed, imagining all the
scary stuff that could happen if I got out.
The next monster that shows up has a long tongue. Ethan nearly falls out of the bed laughing.
"You, however, are challenging,
my friend. You're almost too old
to be afraid of monsters.
You keep me on my toes.
Ah, toes . . . a delicious snack."
Gabe scratches on the bedpost, snorts comfortingly and eats a pillow, among other things. Ethan is happy. His perfect monster has returned.
Well, you already know I love this book and obviously highly recommend it. I can't say enough wonderful things about the illustrations, but naturally you don't have to take my word for it. You can see inside the book because it's from Flashlight Press! Here's the pdf of I Need My Monster. I love the story as much as the illustrations. I'd give this one a perfect 5/5 rating, if I felt like using numbers.
In which I address the complaints at Amazon:
I went to Amazon to find out the number of pages in I Need My Monster because I've found dashing over to Amazon the quickest way to get info. While there, I noticed there was a 3-star review and a few 4-stars. I Need My Monster has mostly 5-star reviews and it has won a boat-load of awards, so I was curious. I like knowing what people don't like about a book.
And, the big complaints?
1. Some people considered the fact that Ethan doesn't want a girl monster a "gender issue" that must be addressed by parents.
I must admit I think that's totally silly. If I had a little girl, I'd just remind her that Ethan is not satisfied with any of the substitute monsters. He's obviously rejecting every monster because what he really wants is what he's already accustomed to. He just wants Gabe back.
2. There was a slight concern that the book might cause nightmares, depending on the child.
That's a distinct possibility and worth considering. On the other hand, I Need My Monster could very well help children who are frightened of the dark to laugh about what they fear. I'd definitely keep the sensitivity of my child in mind.
The bottom line:
Love it, highly recommend it, would buy it for any child I read to. One of my children was terrified of the book Jumanji. If you're worried that it might be too frightening, you can always read the book to your child online and see how it goes. I'm hanging onto this one for future grandchildren.
I confess that I begged to review I Need My Monster because I loved the artwork in When a Dragon Moves In, which is also illustrated by Howard McWilliam.