posted in Educational Thoughts
From Stephanie Sisler’s “Matthew’s Monsters: A Creative Comprehensive Exercise.”
Book Review Written by: Julie Kummer
This book is a thrill for the younger reader who lies anxiously in bed at night, trying to ignore the sights and sounds that create nightmarish nervousness. It’s an excellent gift for a child, and works well for travel. It also passed most critical tester I know, and received the “Read it again, read it again comment” after only one reading.
The author tackles several tasks well: creating interesting imaginary monsters, quizzing the reader on comprehension, and really spinning a fun storyline for an older child or adult reading along.
The reader is asked to participate fully in the story by answering multiple-choice questions throughout the text and tested on visual recognition requests for more detail for each of the five monsters.
“Matthew’s” illustrator, Kyle Grzelak, creates wonderful, detailed drawings for the Sisler’s story, as well as matching clues for the text. Grzelak has created an every boy, a child we feel we must know.
Sisler uses sounds and texture effectively to add to the anxiety our six-year character, Matthew must feel. Discarded toys and wrappers are given shape and form, and most children will identify with the potato chip bags, basketballs, cars missing wheels and a guitar all plucked to make Matthew assume at least one monster is sharing his room.
As our six year old hears different sounds and rustling from the corners of his room, the monsters in the book morph into distinctly different colors and shapes. We move with the boy as he tries to describe their source and are given some choice descriptive sounds to flesh out his monsters, “stomp, plink, plank, then tip, tip, boom, roll, thump.” The monster in his closet heard moving his shoes, must be trying them on; another monster checks a potato chip bag for crumbs.
As we conclude the hunt for monsters, Matthew decides a flashlight will dispel some of his fears, as he explains, “Everyone knows monsters are afraid of lights.” He’s right, but not to spoil the surprise, I won’t identify the source of the frightening sounds. Let’s just say that this little animal will calm most children’s fears about their own bedroom monsters.
This book is a delightful way to address nighttime fear and restlessness and deserves to be read.
Julie Ann HowellPublisher/FounderPeppertree PressThe Pepper Tree Magazine