Written and Illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
Little Brown and Company, 2012
Grouch, Grump, and little Gloom ‘n’ Doom thought they were monsters. They lived in a dark monster castle, high atop a dark monster mountain overlooking a monster-fearing village.
Eek! It’s a: Big Monster and Three Little Monsters!
These three little monsters are bent on destruction and negativity. They argue continuously over who is the worst monster. Finally, to settle the question, they work together to build the biggest monster ever and bring him to life. But instead of destroying everything around him, the big monster (who resembles Frankenstein’s monster) thanks his creators for giving him life and then takes some time to appreciate everything around him. The three monsters’ hopes are raised when he crashed through the wall and heads toward town, but it turns out that he is just trying to do something nice for his new friends. Grouch, Grump and Gloom ‘n’ Doom thank Monster and discover that gratitude is not so bad. The book ends with them all appreciating the sunrise on the beach.
Author/illustrator Patrick McDonnell is best known for his comic strip, MUTTS, which has run continuously since 1994. He also created the Bad Baby comic, featured in Parents Magazine. He made the leap to picture books in 2005 and won a Caldecott Honor for his book, Me…Jane, which tells the story of Jane Goodall. The characters in this book have the same comic cuteness as his MUTTS characters, but it’s really nice to see the color and the detail of full page illustrations. I really love his artistic style and I’m glad he’s entered the picture book arena. Plus, the book jacket tells us that he has a cat named Not Ootie. I love that name.
This story, like the MUTTS comics, is funny, but wonderfully full of heart. The artwork changes in color and tone as the story progresses; moving from an angry dark gray palette to a beautiful and calming beach scene with a bright sunlit sky. You can even feel the change in the drawings of the little monster characters. It’s a really wonderful story.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that taking even the smallest moment to be grateful and appreciate your life can change your whole outlook, even for the meanest monsters.