Written by Santi Balmes, Illustrated by Lyona
Albert Whitman & Company, 2015
It was pouring rain outside and Martina was scared.
The plot in a nutshell: A girl imagines a monster world.
Martina doesn’t like going to bed, because she believes that a city of monsters exists in an upside-down world under her bed. She is afraid that if all the monsters jump up and down at the same time, it will break the floor and allow them into our world. She worries that if she leaves her arm hanging over the edge of her bed, a monster could pull her into their world. She calls her daddy and asks him some questions about monsters and he reassures her that he will fight the monsters for her, but tells her that the braver she is, the smaller the monster will be. She falls asleep and dreams about a monster girl whose life and fears parallel hers. In her sleep, Martina’s arm slips over the edge of the bed and her fingers touch the soft and fuzzy fingers of the monster on the other side and both of them realize they have nothing to be afraid of.
Multi-talented author Santi Balmes is also an actor and musician in his native Spain, where this book was first published in 2011. It was translated from the original Spanish and published in the US in 2015. He cites his daughter as the inspiration for this story, which he wrote to help her understand that there is no need to be afraid of something just because it is a little different. Both Martina and her monster counterpart (who is cleverly named Anitram, which is Martina backwards) have strong father figures who promise to defend them against any dangers. Both fathers also let their daughter bravely figure out for themselves that there is really nothing to fear.
The super cute illustrations were done by Lyona, a graphic designer and music video director, also from Spain. She gets the whole book into the act here, since you have to turn the book on its side and even upside down on some pages to read the text, which changes when we go into the monster world. Most of the illustrations here feature primarily pink and blue, but there are some other colors that pop in here and there as well. As you may imagine, the monsters here are not scary at all and the ending is really very sweet. I think even skittish kids could enjoy this book.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that a little courage and a little knowledge can go a long way toward helping with whatever is scaring you.