In this debut picture book for kids, author E-Collen and illustrator Coddington, both educators, stress the importance of trusting adults with secrets involving abuse.
The “monster” in the protagonist’s house has been there since she was 5. Coddington portrays a Freddy Krueger–like silhouette in solid black against the background of a house’s interior. In the opening, the protagonist is shown hugging her knees, hiding beneath a table. At first, she explains, the monster gave her gifts and seemed nice. He said she was “special” but encouraged her to keep secrets from her mother. When the girl didn’t want to do unspecified “things,” she says, the monster became angry and wouldn’t leave her alone. One day at school, her teacher reads a book about “different types of touching.” Encouraged, the girl trusts her teacher with the truth. The girl, the monster, and the teacher are depicted as Caucasian, but Coddington briefly portrays classmates with other skin tones. Young readers will likely want to know if the girl gets rescued from the monster, but the book leaves the question open. E-Collen’s childlike, first-person narration feels authentic, and although Coddington’s silhouettes are scary, readers likely won’t find them overly threatening. This book may help endangered children open up about their experiences.
A brief, accessible book that would be a good tool for elementary school guidance counselors.