A young monster breaks a taboo against friendship—kind of.
Zander’s a normal monster (except for having a sister who’s a fairy—a strange detail that’s part of the book’s deadpan whimsy). And like a normal monster, he doesn’t have friends, though the illustrations imply he longs for connection. However, there’s apparently no injunction against fairies having friends, and his sister has plenty. Instead, Zander enjoys normal monster activities such as scaring children (which the illustrations hilariously suggest fills him with a wicked glee) and...surfing. While surfing, Zander notices a bird watching him. They silently greet each other with nods and points of the chin for a couple days until Zander invites the bird to the sand, whereupon the other monsters notice and mock Zander about his “friend.” Zander denies the friendship, and the hurt-looking bird wings away...but returns the next day. With information gleaned from his sister about friends, the next time he’s mocked, Zander decides that he and the bird aren’t friends—they don’t do everything his sister and her friends do (like “give money to kids who’ve lost teeth”)—they just enjoy spending time together. Jack’s colorful, humorous art makes for active illustrations and engaging characters, aptly complementing Vernick’s gently speculative text. The book ends without explicit acknowledgment of Zander’s friendship with the bird or his desire for closeness, allowing readers to digest the message.
A quirky friendship story with lots of humor. (Picture book. 3-6)