A little girl deals with an annoying manifestation of overwhelming negative thoughts.
When the monster is not cackling or blathering nonsense, it declares she has “a huge head” as she looks in the mirror and berates her comments as “dumb.” The girl puts on a hat and doesn’t participate, but the monster grows, lurking just behind her, until she confronts it across the gutter. She drowns it out by making her own instruments from household oddments—cutlery, tin cans, jars—and it begins to shrink. Eventually, she squashes the buzzing, fly-sized monster between two pot-lid cymbals—“SPLAT!”—and she never hears from it again. (If only it were so easy.) The text is very sparse, with far more sound effects than narrative text, so the story depends on the pictures to fill in the gaps, especially in the opening few pages. It would perhaps be best read silently or experienced as part of a discussion. Among her multiracial classmates, the white-appearing girl has a burst of curly, bright-red hair. The monster is an amorphous blob of shadowy scribbles with rounded teeth and flipperlike appendages. Kang’s art has the look and texture of colored pencils on ribbed paper, with thick, fluid lines and effective layering. Color sets the mood; neutrals take over when the monster is influential—the girl’s bright hair is literally squashed under the bluish-gray hat—and transition to a brighter palette when the girl is in control.
It’s a successful visual metaphor but lacking in some practical application of text. (Picture book. 4-7)