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I NEED my MONSTER by Amanda Noll – is it your kind of bedtime story?

Many review journals share information from the "big" publishers, but I like to contribute something once and awhile from the Independent Publishers Group like I Need My Monster written by Amanda Noll and illustrated by Howard McWilliam; published by Flashlight Press, 2009. ISBN 978-097-997-462-5 $16.95
illustration - I Need My Monster-Front cover for book published Spring 2009 - McWilliam, Howard
I Need My Monster is a unique take on a bed-time book that you’ll find yourself needing multiple copies for public libraries. Elementary schools will find ways to enjoy the title in story time and as a writing prompt. Even my middle school students tried to pry it out of my hands to take home to read to their little brothers and sisters. 

Ethan peeks under his bed one night to discover his monster has gone <gasp> fishing instead. Ethan knows his relationship with his monster is important to keep him cowering in his bed at night, afraid to get up because the monster could be waiting to <double gasp> nibble his toes. What will he do?

Being the sensible little boy he is, he raps the floor for a substitute to appear. Sadly, none of the monsters can measure up to the degree of scariness needed to enable Ethan to sleep. They even accuse him of being too picky. 

For those of you who have curled up with children to read bedtime stories, you know there is a fine line between a story that is too short and one that is just right. Amanda Noll has created a satisfying twist to bedtime stories that enables the child to crave scarier and scarier monsters, to laugh at our fears and to curl up in the end deliciously scared of letting our toes dangle over the edge.

Check out the audio review on Just One More Book and listen to Andrea Ross & Mark Blevis discuss how this book was supremely designed and created. They love the illustrations and rave about the artwork by Howard McWilliam. I appreciated listening to their podcast and relating to their love of the sketches in the end pages. Publishers, we do appreciate each extra touch to these picture books.

Noll and McWilliam are new to the picture book publishing world, but I anticipate we’ll be seeing more of them. McWilliam has been busily illustrating magazines and newspapers before creating this work of picturebook art.  Check out his blog to see some of his ongoing illustrations for adults, too. McWilliam created his illustrations by drawing them with pencil on paper, scanning them, and then painting them with digital acrylic paint.  He also designed the font which impressed me. I loved the text placement of this book not just the illustrations. 

I also particularly like the title on the cover with its raised letters and unique letters for the word monster. Be sure to put the book jacket out where students can touch and shiver with delight. Come on, how can you miss when you have an eyeball for the letter "O"? 

illustration - - - McWilliam, Howard

One of my favorite illustrations (conveniently posted on the illustrator’s web page) shows Ethan indignantly explaining to this monster that "I definitely need a boy monster. Boy monsters are for boys and girl monsters are for girls. Everybody knows that." When I read this to a three year old, she emphatically nodded her head as if I were silly for not already knowing that. 

I appreciated the effect of lighting on this illustration and attention to design throughout this title. The illustrations show intense care with lighting and color especially with sentences like:

Then the bed trembled as 
Gabe unfurled his spiked tail.
He was daring me to guess
where he might pop up.
I shivered.

Add this to your basket of bedtime goodies and shiver with your readers. Looking for something fun with your librarian readers? There’s an activity page on Flashlight Press’ website that kids (or librarians or teachers) can download and print to make their own monster.   Full instructions are on the webpage. If kids want to scan and send them jpegs of the monsters they create, Flashlight Press will post them to the site. Get your imagination going.