What’s a Monster? written by Maurice Trent, with illustrations by Arisbeth Cruz, is a wonderful storybook with a great little twist that goes beyond your typical children’s monster-story fare.
Oliver is scared of the house at night. During an argument over the family bathroom, Oliver’s older brother Ty tells him to keep his voice down otherwise it will attract the resident kid-eating monster, which Oliver tries to ignore. It is only when Oliver receives a playhouse as a gift for his fifth birthday that the forgotten threat of monsters suddenly becomes all too real for Oliver, and it’s cleverly revealed that Oliver is a monster himself…
Trent gives us a sweetly relatable protagonist in young Oliver, and the fact that he reverses the roles of monster and human adds a nice twist to the story, which alleviates any fear a child might have of a monster story. More importantly, What’s a Monster? addresses what’s important to young children: nighttime and the fear of lurking monsters, security items, sibling interactions, and having a special place all one’s own. Cruz’s exquisite illustrations complement the narrative and capture the essence of little Oliver’s vulnerabilities to perfection.
With a charming story and expressive illustrations, What’s a Monster? has all the hallmarks of becoming a favorite bedtime read.