How was I supposed to get to sleep if my monster was gone?
I don’t know about you, but I was never a scary story, monster-loving kind of kid. Frankly, the closest I ever came to enjoying these kinds of tales was Monsters Inc. As an adult, I’ve grown rather fond of those stories that take something scary and flip it on its head. In the case of Amanda Noll’s I Need My Monster, that is precisely what happens. With gorgeous illustrations from Howard McWilliam, I Need My Monster features a young boy as he navigates how to fall asleep when his monster has gone away on a trip.
Ethan has gotten into the routine of falling asleep with a very specific, very scary monster living under his bed. But one night, instead of his monster he finds a note letting him know that monster Gabe has gone fishing. Suddenly Ethan is faced with a problem. How will he get to sleep without the familiar sounds and ooziness of his monster there to help him?
Thus ensues one of the most adorable endeavors to find Ethan a substitute monster for the night. But for each monster that comes, there’s something about them that just doesn’t quite fit. And Ethan still can’t sleep. In fact, as he tries to work with each of the new monsters, he finds himself missing Gabe more and more.
I loved this story immensely. The entire process that Ethan and his substitute monsters go through trying to help him get to sleep is endearing and hilarious. There’s almost nothing about this story that I could even think to criticize, I love it so much. I do have one complaint, of course, and that was when Ethan told monster Cynthia that “Boy monsters are for boys and girl monsters are for girls.”
I found this suggestion rather irritating, pushing a gender conformity narrative that is not only problematic but also disappointing. For such a brilliant book, it’s so sad to see how much this moment hurt it. In retrospect, I have no problem with young Ethan asking for a boy monster, saying that he feels more comfortable that way. He can even say he simply needs a monster that doesn’t wear a bow. But I do have a problem with him insisting that boys should only have a specific kind of monster.
Aren’t You A Picky One
Usually, perhaps, I am. In the case of this book, though, I have to say that the illustrations are some of the most exceptional that I’ve ever seen. The consistency of Ethan’s bedroom alone was impressive. And that’s without even mentioning the adorable kid himself and the monsters that come by to scare him. I can’t think of a single thing about the artwork that wasn’t phenomenal.
Ethan was one of the cutest characters I’ve ever seen, especially when he had his moments of laughing at some of the monsters. I was particularly fond of that illustration above all others. The monsters were all unique and fantastic. And the artwork and written word come together to tell one of the best stories I’ve found in a children’s book.
If You Need A monster
I will, unquestionably, recommend this to almost everyone. I do think there needs to be a little bit of intervening on the parent’s end when getting to that piece about “boys only having boy monsters and girls having girl monsters.” I think that line was absolutely ridiculous. It was so ridiculous that I docked an entire star for that idea alone.
But, otherwise this is an incredibly unique and wonderful book. It’s bright, colorful, and engaging. The story Noll tells is truly brilliant. And you’re right on time to get this fantastically scary story right before Halloween.