I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll and Howard McWilliam
When I picked up I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll and illustrated by Howard McWilliam, I half expected something along the lines of There's a Monster in My Closet by Mercer Mayer. This book is indeed a story about a boy who is afraid of the monster under his bed, but the theme of this silly book is actually finding a perfect replacement monster for the hero's favorite scary bedtime pal.
Author Amanda Noll finds a good balance between the fear factor and the funny factor in this story with plenty of zany humor, but the book still does contain a scary monster with sharp claws and ominous green drool.
Ethan, the boy hero of the tale, begins the story going looking for his monster buddy Gabe under the bed, but instead finds a note: "gone fishing." Ethan is beside himself with disappointment. After all, Gabe helps him fall asleep each night.
Soon, a motley assortment of replacement monsters appear in Gabe's stead. But each replacement monster fails to meet Ethan's expectations, because each in their own way are simply not that scary.
For example, the monster Ralph's menacing long claws frighten Ethan until he realizes that Ralph is wearing nail polish. Ethan realizes that another monster is a girl, so he decides she won't work out either. Ethan falls back on his bed laughing at the ludicrous monster named Mack, who is more than a bit miffed by Ethan's unnatural behavior.
Fortunately for Ethan, Gabe suddenly returns just in time to scare him to sleep. Ethan's monster is much scarier than the others, but still not TOO scary. I read this book to my four-year-old son, and he enjoyed it immensely, even laughing out loud at all the right places.
"No other monster can scare me like you! I giggled." says Ethan when he is reunited with the monster under his bed.
Why I Need My Monster is A Must-Read
I Need My Monster takes fear by the horns (or should I say claws?) and embraces it warmly, with a sense of humor. Unlike the classic story Harry and the Terrible Whatzit, this book shows the protagonist enjoying the experience of being frightened by his monster and also being truly scared.
The message of this story is really for older kids (like Ethan) who are almost, but not quite, too old to be frightened by monsters under the bed.
This book is a lot of fun to read. The dialog is entertaining and delivered with a sharp bite. Even though this story is a little longer than the average children's picture book geared to preschoolers, it can easily hold a preschooler's attention if you read with a little dramatic flair. I would guess that this book is most age-appropriate for a kindergarten and up crowd. I would recommend this book for reading to a story time group of older preschoolers or kindergarten-aged students, because the dialog in the book is longish.
Use This Book In a Monster-Themed Storytime
I Need My Monster is a mild-mannered foray into the thrills and chills of Halloween, but because Ethan's monster is friendly, this book is a fun selection to use in a preschool-aged group. Here are some more books that you could read to make a monster-themed story hour:
Harry and the Terrible Whatzit by Dick Gackenbach is a great story to read aloud and was my childhood favorite picture story. Harry is sure that the Terrible Whatzit in the basement has done something terrible to his mother, so he faces down his fear of the basement and the Whatzit, only to discover the Whatzit's size shrinking along with his power to scare Harry. In this story, Harry hits the Whatzit with a broom. Read my review of this story and decide if if is appropriate to share in your story hour.
There's a Nightmare In My Closet (1968, Puffin Books) and There's an Alligator Under My Bed (1987) are two classic titles by author/illustrator Mercer Mayer about young boys facing their fears at bedtime. The Alligator under a young boy's bed wreak's havoc on his bedtime routine until he uses the junk food in the refrigerator to lure it into the garage, where Dad naturally finds him in the morning.
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything would make another good companion tale. This story about a pair of pants, a shirt, and a jack-o-lantern head follow a woman home and try to scare her, but she isn't easily frightened and instead she puts the troublesome clothes and pumpkin to work as a scarecrow in her garden.
More Recommended Children's Books
Please feel to explore some of my favorite recommended children's books listed below:
Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing by Judi Barrett · A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams · Babies by Gyo Fujikawa · Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See by Bill Martin and Eric Carle · Charley Harper's ABCs by Charlie Harper · Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons · Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes · Daughter of a King by Rachel Ann Nunes · Excuse Me! By Lisa Kopelke · Gregory the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat · Harry and The Terrible Whatzit by Dick Gackenbach · Hilda Must Be Dancing by Karma Wilson · I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll · I'd Choose You by John Trent · Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback · King of Kings by Susan Hill · Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis and David Soman · Lily's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes · Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney · Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney · Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle · No David! by David Shannon · Olivia by Ian Falconer · Out of the Ocean by Debra Frasier · Snowballs by Lois Ehlert · So Much by Trish Cooke and Helen Oxenbury · Souperchicken by Mary Jane and Herm Auch · The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone · The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle · The King With Six Friends by Jay Williams · The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah by Leslie Kimmelman · The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza by Philemon Sturges · The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell · The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy · The Red Shoes a Fairy Tale by Gloria Fowler and Sun Young Yoo · The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats · Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel · Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White · Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak · Yoon and the Christmas Mitten by Helen Recorvits