Written by Tiffany Strelitz Haber, Illustrated by Kirstie Edmunds
Henry Holt and Company, 2012
Monsters are a spooky bunch – A scary, hairy group. They run in packs, leave giant tracks, And dine on eyeball soup.
Eek! It’s a: Monster!
This story is told through rhyming couplets, beginning with a poetic breakdown of the word ‘monster,’ in which we learn what each letter of the word stands for. One monster loses the M (which stands for mean) and becomes an Onster, who is shunned and mocked by his friends, who are all other monsters. When he discovers he can’t be mean anymore, he starts being helpful and friendly to humans and finds himself having a happier life, with a new set of friends.
There’s something fun about seeing how things work in the monster world, especially when we can see the similarities and differences from our own world. This book shows us that monsters can be really awful bullies and can ostracize those who don’t fit in, just the same way that humans, unfortunately, sometimes do. We get to see Onster struggle between the way he feels and the way he thinks he SHOULD feel, which is something familiar to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of peer pressure.
Author Tiffany Strelitz Haber has a real gift for rhyme and the story has a very natural and easy to read meter. I love that she has included an acrostic poem about monsters, as acrostics are always fun for kids to explore. Kirstie Edmunds’ wonderful illustrations keep the monsters from being scary (although the bully monsters are certainly NOT cute). Kids can look for a little brown dog who shows up in many pictures. And be sure to point out the monsters in the shadows in the final picture, who are lurking in the darkness while Onster is having fun with his new friends. A nice reminder of how much better it is to have real friends and live in the light.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that moments of adversity often show us who we truly are.