Monday, October 19, 2009

Where's That Monster Under My Bed? I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll

Tonight, when I looked under the bed for my monster, I found this note instead:


What was I going to do? I NEEDED a monster under my bed.

How was I supposed to get to sleep if my monster was gone?

How would I ever get to sleep without Gabe's familiar scary noises and his spooky, green ooze?

A creature of habit, Ethan can't doze off without those familiar noises--whistling, claw-scrabbling sounds from under the bed. Reluctantly he realizes that he has to call up a substitute sleepytime monstrosity. Two raps on the floor boards summon up a series of subs, all willing to try out their talents.

"Good evening," said a low, breathy voice.

"My name is Herbert, and I will be your monster for the evening."

The kid is not impressed.

"Do you have long teeth and scratchy claws?"

"No, but I have an OVERBITE. And I'm a mouth breather."

"Next!" thinks Ethan, and in succession other monsters appear for an audition. The effete Ralph is rejected because his long nails bear obvious evidence of a professional manicure and nail polish. The next monster has impressive claws, but the bow on her tail gives Cynthia away. Ick! Even monsters have girl cooties, and the kid sends her packing. Then when Mack appears to show off his ticklishly long tongue, the kid collapses in giggles at the thought. Don't call me, I'll call you, thinks the kid.

But when Gabe suddenly shows back up, bored with easily frightened fish, Ethan is relieved.

"I'd like to start out this evening with an ominous puddle of drool," Gabe announces.

"So you had some substitute monsters tonight. Were you scared?"

"No other monster can scare me like you do."

"We're made for each other," Gabe growled. "Now if you would just stick out your foot.... I'd like to nibble your pinkie..."

"No toes tonight, but you can have this," I offered. I pushed a pillow off the bed.

I didn't even hear it hit the floor.

A better monster-under-the-bed story won't be had this spooky season--or any time soon. In their I Need My Monster, (Flashlight, 2009) Amanda Noll's tongue-in-cheek text and Howard McWilliam's atmospheric illustrations take Mercer Mayer's monsters into the digital dimension with a dash of Shrek and Monsters, Inc., supersized and deliciously funny-scary styled, to delight young monster fanciers everywhere. There's droll and sly humor for everyone here--from tots to adults--a perfect pairing, just like Ethan and Gabe.

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