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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Marilyn's Monster, written by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Matt Phelan. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2015. $18.00 ages 4 and up

"Marilyn stopped trying to seem pretty and nice and friendly and fun all the time. She stopped looking around in the library and the playground after school. She started feeling mad. Where was her monster? What was taking him so long? She was so mad ... "

Her brother and all her friends have a monster of their own. What about Marilyn? Where is her monster? Why hasn't it found her yet? It's enough to initiate a temper tantrum of sorts!

The title page shows Marilyn trailing behind a line of happy companions ... each set includes a monster and an extremely happy child. Marilyn is all alone.

"Some of the kids in Marilyn's class had monsters. It was the latest thing. Marilyn didn't have a monster. Not yet. You couldn't just go out and get one. Your monster had to find you."

So, there is a rule. That effectively leads Marilyn through a wide range of emotions as she cautiously waits for her very own monster. They arrive in many different ways, and unexpectedly. Since monsters are finding their children in every conceivable place, Marilyn is sure hers will do the same. Unworried, she watches the many arrivals with only cursory glances and a heart full of hopes. As the only child without a monster, she is patient. Following that, she is thoughtful about the need for a monster of her own; then doubtful, and finally both mad and very sad. She likes the idea of having her own.

Instead of just waiting around, Marilyn sets herself a quest: to find her own monster, wherever it may be. She is prepared, and forewarned.

"She didn't just kind of look. She really looked.
She looked as hard as she could.
She searched behind the stone lions
that sat outside the library."

Further and further afield she goes, always on the lookout. Her perseverance pays off when she finds a small, scared, lost bundle of green and yellow, with very useful wings.

Michelle Knudsen's lively text is enhanced in all the best ways by Matt Phelan as he creates a plethora of brilliant monsters sure to capture the attention of eagle-eyed young readers who share this book. All of Marilyn's emotions are perfectly captured in watercolor and ink artwork that assure no child reading this book will fear any of those visions Mr. Phelan conjures up for this witty tale.

This is a book with heart, and I cannot wait to share it!

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