cover image I Need My Monster

I Need My Monster

Amanda Noll, , illus. by Howard McWilliam . Flashlight, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-9799746-2-5

This debut picture book for both author and illustrator offers a droll take on the monster-under-the-bed theme. Ethan is distressed when he peers under the mattress for his monster but finds only a note: “Gone fishing. Back in a week.” How can he fall asleep without Gabe's “ragged breathing. His nose-whistling. The scrabbling of his uncut claws” and the “spooky green ooze” he emits? Concluding that he needs a substitute, the bug-eyed boy knocks on the floorboards to summon one, but the beasts that appear one by one aren't sufficiently menacing (“The whole point of having a monster, after all, was to keep me in bed, imagining all the scary stuff that could happen if I got out”). Ethan engages in spry repartee with the monsters he rejects before Gabe reappears, having cut short his trip. Dramatic in perspective, McWilliam's exaggerated, digitally colored art renders the monsters in a spectrum of neon hues and outlandish shapes. The collaborators ably balance some bedtime chills with humor, and Ethan's enthusiasm for his monster should prove infectious. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)