Written by Judith Viorst, Illustrated by Kay Chorao
Aladdin Paperbacks, 1973
My mama says there isn’t any mean-eyed monster with long slimy hair and pointy claws going scritchy-scratch, scritchy-scritchy-scratch outside my window.
The plot in a nutshell: A boy doubts all the things his mother said weren’t real when he realizes that everything she says isn’t always accurate
Nick has a lot of concerns. He’s pretty sure that there are all sorts of monsters and bad guys lurking around his house that mean him all sorts of harm. His mother had reassured him, over and over, that it’s all in his imagination and that the things he’s afraid of are not actually there. But he doesn’t take a lot of comfort from that, when he can clearly see his mother making mistakes, such as being wrong about when his loose tooth would come out or getting angry at him for something that is his brother’s fault. At the end, a creature grabs him and it turns out to be his mother (under a blanket). He realizes that, although she’s not always right, she’s not always wrong, either.
Author Judith Viorst has a very diverse writing resume, including stories and poetry for adults and children, memoirs, advice books, magazine and newspaper columns and even a television special (for which she won an Emmy). I am most familiar with her wonderful book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. This book shares the same insightful humor and character realism as the Alexander books. The main character in this book, Nick, is Alexander’s brother. The two of them and their brother, Anthony, are all named after Ms. Viorst’s three sons.
The pen and ink drawings of Kay Chorao give vibrant life to Nick’s imagination as well as showing us all his mama’s mistakes from his point of view. His alternating expressions of fear at the imaginary monsters and exasperation at his issues with his mama make it even more heartwarming when we see the lovely warm and adoring smile he gives her on the last page. It’s a very sweet and funny book that seemed a perfect conclusion to October’s Monster Mash.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that even though the best parents make mistakes sometimes, that doesn’t mean you can’t trust them.