In Williams’ children’s book, a little girl and a monster begin an unlikely friendship in a story about keeping an open mind.
One night, a little girl is awoken by a monster, “neither careful nor quiet,” as he flattens her garden. She commands the monster to stop, but instead of allowing him to retreat into the neighboring woods, she invites him to join her for tea. This is clearly a little girl unafraid of monsters! The beast, surprised by this brave reaction and unfamiliar with tea, obliges. As Williams (The Bicycle Garden, 2013) writes, “He only knew about eating people and animals and tearing apart buildings and breathing fire.” With the girl’s assistance, and some patience as he overcomes chairs that don’t support his frame and teacups too diminutive for his hands, the monster shares cookies and tea with the young heroine, who then tucks him into bed beneath the night sky. The monster thought, as he looked up at the girl with his large bulbous eyes, “no one has ever been so kind.” The tale ends as the little girl ponders whether her kindness has changed her new friend’s monstrous habits. More than a story of teatime, Williams crafts a fable about overcoming stereotypes and the benefits that result. The girl’s friendship with the brute is illustrated through simple, appealing line drawings with highlights of color. Williams doesn’t say if the monster changes his ways but lets the reader wonder along with the little girl, allowing for connection and interactions between young readers and the story. Little ones can decide for themselves if the little girl’s kindness had a lasting effect, and teachers or caregivers can speak about the benefits of expecting the best from people (or monsters).
A simple story that will charm little ones and diminish some of the terror surrounding monsters.