cover image The Monster Who Lost His Mean

The Monster Who Lost His Mean

Tiffany Strelitz Haber, illus. by Kirstie Edmunds. Holt, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9375-9

Every monster carries a kind of genetic code that consists, conveniently, of the letters in “monster” (“Mean, Observant, Noisy, super Strong, and Tough to please,/ Envious, Remarkable: A monster’s all of these”). So when one chartreuse, horned creature loses his “M” and becomes just “The Onster,” the other monsters kick him out of their bullying gang. Losing his M, however, turns Onster into a mensch: “The Onster thinks, I’ll throw some eggs at Mr. Lander’s van!/ But winds up cooking brunch for the entire Lander clan.” He may be exiled from monsterdom, but his upstanding behavior wins him popularity with the in-crowd that matters: kindhearted human kids. Debut author Haber’s rhymes hammer home lessons about peer pressure and nice guys finishing first. The obviousness of the message is mitigated by Edmunds’s (So You Want to Be a Rock Star) cheeky digital drawings. Her Onster, who resembles an oversize, overstuffed pillow, looks truly liberated by his loss of fierceness. There’s no need to be told, “He’s happier in every way!”—his goofy grin and eager eyes say it all. Ages 4–8. Agent: Teresa Kietlinski, Prospect Agency. (July)