A lot of young children have an equivocal perspective on monsters: they are scary, but it is fun to watch and hear about them. They inspire children’s curiosity.
Like many other children, my daughter loves monsters. She is excited when she sees monsters on TV or in a book. But, she also says that she is scared of them from time to time. For example, she mentioned a few days ago that she met a monster in her dream, and it was very scary.
Herein, five recommendable books on monsters are introduced. These books’ content can be checked through the linked Youtube videos. Hope these books are enjoyable and helpful for our children.
The Monster at the End of this Book
(Author: Jon Stone, Illustrator: Michael Smollin, Age range: 0~3 years)
Grover appeared at the beginning of the book. He kept telling that the reader should not turn the pages because there would be a monster at the end of this book. He tried to prevent the reader from turning the pages by tying the pages together with ropes, nailing the page with the woods, and building a strong brick wall. All these efforts did not work, and the final page was reached. The monster at the end of this book was Grover himself. He assured the reader that there was nothing to be afraid of.
The Monster at the End of this Book was written by Jon Stone (1932~1997). He was a director of Sesame Street from 1969~1994, and he was credited for creating many characters in Sesame Street. He wrote several children’s books.
The storytelling of the book is smart and witty. As the pages are turned, Grover keeps telling the reader not to turn the page. It is nearly impossible to stop there. As the pages are turned, new messages and remarkable pictures keep popping up. Grover screams several times when the pages are turned, and this scene is laughable.
The message on the last page, “there is nothing to be afraid of”, can be a lifelong lesson for our children.
Quit Calling Me a Monster!
(Author: Jory John, Illustrator: Bob Shea, Age range: 3~7 years)
From the first page, a monster is telling the reader to stop calling him a monster. He said that he got hurt when someone called him a monster, although he had all the features of a monster. Then, he acknowledged that he was technically a monster.
Later, he asked the reader to call him by his name, Floyd Peterson. When he was about to sleep in the closet, a child told his dad that there was a monster in the closet. Then, his father corrected him that it was not a monster but Floyd Peterson. Floyd Peterson was satisfied with hearing this.
It is a fun-reading with an interactive conversation between a monster and a reader. The book’s author and illustrator, Jory John and Bob Shea, also collaborated on I will chomp you, which showed an interactive conversation between the monster and a reader. I will chomp you has a similar structure as the monster at the end of this book, shown above.
The graphics are impressive. A somewhat cute monster keeps asking a reader not to call him a monster. Then, he wants to be called by his name. The most impressive and catching phase in this book is, I really don’t like being called a monster a bit. How would you like it?. Children can think about treating others with good manners. They can also learn that calling someone by name is a wonderful thing. These two points can be an excellent lesson for children.
I Want to Be in a Scary Story
It is a story of a little purple monster who wants to be in a scary story. He visits a house in the forest as per the narrator’s suggestion and checks inside the house. The little monster was confident that the experience would be enjoyable, but he was scared by a witch and a ghost.
Then, the monster mentioned that he himself wanted to be a scary one and went to a room to scare a small monkey. But, the monster was scared by a gigantic monkey standing beside the small monkey. At the end of the book, all the characters in the book laughed together.
There is an interactive conversation between the main character (the little purple monster) and the narrator. Its structure reminds me of We are in a book, a story of a pig and an elephant, as introduced in Best Children’s books about Pigs.
The little monster wants to be in a scary story, but it turned out to be hilarious. The monster’s continuous challenge to be in a scary story despite the narrator’s suggestion of being in a funny story is somewhat courageous. The monster’s request to become the scary one himself is cute, and the scene where he got scared by the gigantic monkey is laughable. The last page where all the characters are laughing will be fun to watch for our children.
Our children will face a lot of troublesome situations where they dare to challenge their fear but the reality is a lot harder than they assumed. The circumstance in this book may remind them of the way to deal with the challenge.
(Author and Illustrator: Julia Donaldson, Age range: 3~7 years)
It is a story of a little mouse who was walking through the deep dark wood. He met his predators, such as a fox, an owl, and a snake. All of them invited the mouse to their places to eat him up. But, the mouse scared them away by mentioning Gruffalo, who was described as a strong and scary monster. The predators were so frightened and ran away when they heard that Gruffalo’s favorite food would be the predators themselves.
Although the mouse thought that there was no Gruffalo, it actually showed up in front of him. Gruffalo said that he would eat the mouse. Then, the mouse mentioned he was the scariest creature in the wood, and he would prove it.
The mouse walked through the wood while Grufallo followed him. When they met the predators mentioned above, the predators were frightened by Grufallo and ran away, but Grufallo thought that they were scared of the mouse. When the mouse mentioned that his favorite food was Gruffalo crumble, Grufallo ran away from the little mouse.
The Gruffalo was published in 1999, and its author was Julia Donaldson (1948~ ). She is a great linguist, and there are a lot of carefully selected rhymes in the Gruffalo, along with repetitive verses. More than 13 million copies of the Gruffalo were sold worldwide.
The storyline was inspired by a traditional Chinese tale. In the tale, a girl who faced a Tiger saved her life by letting the tiger walk behind her the same way as the mouse did. Julia Donaldson mentioned that she changed the character to Gruffalo because the word of tiger was not adequate for rhyming.
In the story, the little mouse was very smart, and he saved his life with his brilliant strategy. Our children will be able to think about the mouse’s tactics in case they are facing a problem. The book’s colorful illustrations and how the Gruffalo looks will be captivating for our children.
Where the Wild Things Are
(Author and Illustrator: Maurice Sendak, Age range: 4~8 years)
Max was a mischievous boy. When he did some naughty things and told his mom, “I will eat you up”, he was sent to his room without the supper. Then, the room suddenly changed to a forest and the ocean. He traveled in the ocean for more than a year. Afterward, he reached an island and met the wild monsters. He lived there as a king. Then, he got bored with his life on the island and missed his family. He came back to his room, and there was supper which was still hot.
Where the wild things are was written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak (1928~2012). He was born to Polish-Jewish parents in Brooklyn, New York. A lot of his extended family members died during the Holocaust. When the book was published, it received a lot of criticism for its grotesque monsters and Max’s comment of I’ll eat you up! to his mom.
Since is publication, more than 20 million copies have been sold in 32 languages by 2013. Where the Wild Things are is considered as one of the best children’s books. Its numerous awards include the #1 of the 100 Best Children’s Books of All Time by the magazine Time, #1 book in a survey of readers by School Library Journal in 2012.
In Max’s imagination, the adventure lasted for more than two years in total. But when he came home, the supper was still hot, meaning that it was the same night as he told his mom, “I’ll eat you up”. There is wild and limitless imagination in this book, and it is the best book to expand children’s imagination. It is highly recommended.