A not-so-terrifying bedtime monster, inspired by his assigned child, discovers what he really wants to do with his life in this debut picture book.
The narrator, a brown-skinned, black-haired boy with a pet pug, bemoans that his old, scary bedtime monster retired. When Jerry arrives, the green polka-dot–furred, hat-wearing, hug-giving monster is not what the narrator expected. Jerry tries to be scary, pretending to be a ghost, opening his mouth to show his fangs (until he pops his jaw), and slobbering on the narrator’s pillow (which isn’t horrifying, just gross). “You don’t really like this ‘being scary’ stuff, do you?” the narrator asks. At first, Jerry protests—he’s a monster, after all. But in truth, he’d rather be cooking, painting rocks, or thumb wrestling. In fact, telling the narrator about all the fun activities he likes to do motivates him to make a delicious midnight snack for the boy, who decides maybe a different kind of monster is just what he needs. For youngsters worried about creepy things under the bed, there’s little comfort offered here, except that if Jerry exists, perhaps their monsters won’t be scary either. Schafer’s (A Star Full of Sky, 2017) cheerful illustrations, which feature some crayon drawings from the narrator’s perspective, match the story’s tone perfectly; they are never frightening. Kinder makes superb use of dialogue, allowing children to read back and forth between the characters. And the stirring “be yourself” message comes through without being overdone.
A charming monster tale with an appealing theme.