Written by Natasha Wing, Illustrated by Sylvie Kantorovitz
Harcourt Inc., 2007
One night, Lucy tossed and turned. She could not, would not, did not want to go to bed.
The plot in a nutshell: A girl creates a monster who keeps her awake.
Because she isn’t tired, Lucy decides to draw a picture. She starts out just drawing shapes and the shapes become a monster. Lucy and the monster play together for a while and then Lucy gets sleepy. But Monster is wide awake and doesn’t want to go to bed. He claims to be hungry, so Lucy draws him some meatballs. When he tells her he’s thirsty, she draws him a bucket of water. He tells her that he needs the bathroom, that he’s cold and that he’s scared and every time, she draws a picture to solve his problem. When he tells her he’s not sleepy, she reads him a book and then, as his eyes are starting to close, she snuggles in bed with him and they both fall asleep.
Author Natasha Wing is best known for the The Night Before series of books that all take place, as you might imagine, on the night before something important. This one follows the lead of other great books (Harold and the Purple Crayon springs to mind) in which a hand drawn character comes to life and takes over the plot. In this case, it has the added bonus of changing roles for Lucy and making her take over the parental role, dealing with all the monkey wrenches that Monster throws into her plan to get him to sleep.
The oil paint and pastel artwork from illustrator Sylvie Kantorovitz makes sure that this monster is never scary in any way. His face is very expressive and you can easily tell what he’s feeling or thinking based on his body language. There is a clear differentiation in the artwork between Lucy and Monster, who always appears as though he was drawn with crayons. Even his word balloons are different, with big chunky multi-colored letters outlined in black. I like that Lucy does her best to settle him down and then goes to sleep when she’s tired, setting a good example that he finally decides to follow.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that you have to be careful how you pass your time before bed, because you might be creating a monster yourself.