More than two years ago, a beloved babysitter gave our girls I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll, illustrated by Howard McWilliam, for Christmas. And oh my goodness, this book became a fast favorite! Fast forward two years, when my grandmother wanted to know what to get our 3-year-old for Christmas and I had just realized there’s a sequel… Now Hey, That’s My Monster! is also on repeat in our house! Yes, these books are older (published in 2009 and 2016), but they were completely new books to me, so hopefully you’ll discover a new favorite here, too. If you don’t know this series, read on to discover the delightful humor and terrifically fun characters, as these books make wonderful read-alouds!
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In this series, Noll plays on the concept of children believing there may be monsters under their beds. Now, my girls have never been scared of monsters under their beds/in closets/etc… You know your children best, so if you think the concept of a book about monsters under beds is only going to scare your children more, then this may not be the book for you. But, you should know that these monsters serve an incredibly positive purpose– they keep children in bed and therefore help them sleep better!
In I Need My Monster, we meet Ethan, a boy with a beloved monster named Gabe under his bed. Gabe leaves for a week to go on a fishing trip, and Ethan can’t sleep! He can’t possibly fall asleep without Gabe there, keeping him in bed. (Adults may get a chuckle out of the humor here, such as when Noll writes, “I just had to have a monster. I climbed quietly out of bed so my parents wouldn’t hear me. (Grownups have some strange ideas about monsters under beds.)”). Ethan puts 4 monsters to the test to replace Gabe, but none lives up to his expecations.
Fast forward to the sequel, Hey, That’s My Monster!, and we meet Ethan’s little sister Emma, who has just moved to a toddler bed and basically parties all night, not getting the sleep she needs and keeping Ethan from getting the sleep he needs. Ethan helps Emma try to find a monster that will keep her in her own bed, but no monster seems scary enough for her! (Fans of the first book will appreciate Cynthia’s reappearance here). In the end, the most surprising, friendly, and frankly adorable monster does the trick, and Ethan gets Gabe back.
So, why do we love this series so much? Noll’s writing is descriptive and fun. Each page is full of interesting words, such as “squelched,” “rasped,” “scrabbling,” and “sleekly.” For read-aloud fun, Noll includes incredible descriptions of these monsters and their voices, so my husband and I have a blast getting into character! McWilliam’s illustrations are boldly colored and full of details that they enjoy looking at. The monsters have varying personalities and quirks that make them unique and funny. Though the intent of the monsters is that they are scary enough to keep Ethan and Emma in bed, they’re not really scary at al! These monsters are very conversational and likeable. The only scary thing they ever say or do is threaten to nibble on your toes, but Ethan and Emma both giggle at the idea, so even that is non-threatening.
In fact, after receiving Hey, That’s My Monster!, our 3-year-old began to pretend that she has a monster under her own bed! And, to my delight, her monster doesn’t keep her in bed… Instead, this monster eats clothes that she leaves on the floor, so my daughter now loves to clean up her room! This same child also likes to peruse the endpages and pick out which monster she wants to be friends with. (Our youngest has an incredible imagination!).
If you liked this, check out:
Leonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone
Monster Mess by Margery Cuyler
My Friend the Monster by Eleanor Taylor
Go to Bed, Monster! by Natasha Wing
And, I just noticed there’s a board book coming in July, too! Are You My Monster? may be the perfect shorter, sturdier book if your children aren’t yet ready for full picture books but you’re excited about this series!
What do you think? Do you think your children would like this series as much as ours do, or would the idea of monsters under their beds be scary?