- Bedtime Monsters by Josh Schneider
Arnold’s too busy tromping down a city built from blocks and eating the heads of his animal crackers to go to bed, but when the light finally goes out, he’s terrified that the terrible toe biter will come out—and it does. However, it turns out that the toe biter is afraid of the tooth gnasher and climbs under the covers with Arnold. Arnold’s bed gets more and more crowded with more monsters scared of [End Page 237] other monsters until one of them reveals that it’s afraid of the monstrous Arnolds, who destroy New York and bite the heads off of lions and elephants; then Arnold reveals his “secret” and frightens the whole gang away. Although monsters terrified of radiators that make glinking noises are a lot of silly fun, this story is a standard telling of a plot kids have likely heard before (even if they haven’t quite taken it to heart yet). The increasing goofiness of the monsters (the toe biter’s a big fanged purple guy who looks a bit like a boar on two legs, and the grozny buzzler’s a squat olive bird with wire-rimmed glasses and a fez) amp up the readaloud pleasure, but the ending’s reliance on distant details and sudden resolution causes it to fall flat. Schneider’s ink, watercolor, and colored pencil illustrations are distinctly outlined, which sometimes busies up the pages but also adds a cartoonish over-the-top-ness that matches the story’s tone, a tendency enhanced by the kid-friendly saturated palette and the use of blue outlines to show Arnold’s imagined worlds. The real show-stealers here are the monsters themselves, who are mildly frightening with their nasty teeth and horrible claws but hilarious in their worried expressions. Mayer’s There’s a Nightmare in My Closet is a standard measure for books of this type, but this might see some use as a complementary resource for youngsters who need a bit more encouragement to banish the bedtime boogeymen.