- Monster and Boy by Hannah Barnaby
Barnaby, Hannah Monster and Boy; illus. by Anoosha Syed. Holt, 2020 [144p] (Monster and Boy) Trade ed. ISBN 9781250217837 $13.99 E-book ed. ISBN 9781250217844 $9.44 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 2-4
At bedtime, a boy's mother tells her son there are no such things as monsters. After she leaves, the monster under the bed jumps out to show himself to the boy—whom he loves with all his heart and would never scare—but when the kid starts to scream, the monster gobbles him up. Then he coughs the boy up, but the child now has shrunk to where he can fit in the monster's hand. The poor youngster is hungry, so the monster has to go downstairs—the scariest part of a house for a monster—to get him a snack. It's all absurd and gets even more so, involving a swim in a toilet and some vegetables disguised as candy, but eventually the boy gets back to the right size and the monster gets back to his place under the bed. Direct addresses from the narrator ("This story is not quite what you were expecting, is it?") add some wit to the silliness in this early chapter book, and the story follows a familiar comedy of errors trajectory with an injection of welcome weirdness. Two-color illustrations with highlights (and a few fuller spreads) of turquoise against black evoke a nighttime mood, and the monster himself is a potato-shaped lump with a bit of fur and reindeer antlers, goofier than threatening. Callbacks to Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are will resonate with some readers, and fans of that book will appreciate this longer take on kid-monster relationships.