I can’t believe I am 37 and about to review a children’s book, I just have to accept that I am old and am now actually going to start reviewing the things in my boy’s life. Give me just a moment to wipe my tears.
O.k. I am better, now that I have moved on to the acceptance stage of aging let me say I will try not to make this sound like a book report to Sister Nancy, but the last time I tried to explain a book with pictures in it I was in grade school doing book reports. I do suppose I review comics and a kid’s book is similar in a sense but with thicker paper and cute characters so this will be a meld of my Sacred Heart book reports and a Batman Comic review. Enough digressing.
I Need My Monster, more like You Need This Book. I can’t believe how much fun reading this book was last night. I read to my son Gavin every night, unless I am pulling some overtime I do not miss a night reading a book or two and on occasion three to my recently turned four-year-old. Reading is a blast and most of the time it happens to be a superhero or Disney character book, which is fine, all good books. But I love doing voices and acting out the stories and pentameters of expression and dialogue, though when you are doing Superman or Wall-E the voice is predetermined from t.v. and movies that there is little grace-way into what you can do, but with new stories the sky is the limit. Problem is trying to sell a four-year old on the unfamiliar is not the easiest of task, case and point, he wanted nothing to do with this book on the shelf at the book store. We bought it any way and I just read it as the second portion of a literary doubleheader at bedtime.
Amanda Noll’s I Need My Monster is the story of Ethan who find a note by his bed, “Gone Fishing for the week -Gabe.” Gabe is his monster-under-the-bed. Not a bad deal right? A week without his monster and a good nights sleep. Wrong. Ethan can not sleep without the familiar sounds of his friend from under the bed, or his mysterious ooze. Ethan has to do something so he calls in the back-ups and that is where the fun begins. Monster after monster show up to substitute for Gabe and more and more the defects we will call them lead Ethan to tears, and not tear of fear, but tears of pure ridiculousness for what Herbert, Cynthia, Ralph, and Mack have to offer in absence of their colleague.
The writing is ripe with dialogue for adding silly and well deserved voices to each of the “monsters;” funny that they carry that term, but that is what they aspire to be. Aside from the humor of the story it also gives a child less of a fear of the dark by painting the historically scary monster-under-the-bed as benign creature with and over-bite or manicured nails. Kind of hard to fear the Screech Powers of the monster world.
While Noll’s writing is great the real hidden treat is the art work by Howard McWilliam, clearly it is not hidden being in your face throughout the book, but I think you get my implication. It is impossible to have a great book without great writing, but to have an amazing artist to add to the experience you really hit pay dirt. The art work of I Need My Monster may be some of the best coloring I have ever seen in a children’s book, it is of the quality of a high-end comic artist like Jim Lee in terms of mastery of the pencil mixed with the innocence of Tim Cratchit. One could argue that may McWilliam the greatest artist out there, art is subjective, I understand this. The story, typeset and layout are just so complementing it is not an individual that make the book great, it is the team that make the title, perfect. Noll and McWilliam are the New York Yankees for kid’s picture books, with this product because they just drove it out of the park.
If you have a child who is hitting that stage of creepy ominous beings slithering through the night, this book is a remedy, if you have the funny, goofy child who likes to go to bed with a smile all the more reason to help the lips arch. Typically you find hardcover picture books in the $16 dollar range, for some families that may be pricey and this is why society made libraries. Frankly, you have no reason to at least try this book. You can thank me later.
I will sum this book up in a nutshell, he woke me up at 6:00am to have me read it again. Ya, thanks for the story Amanda!