Author: Denise Vega
Illustrator: Zachariah OHora
Published: 2017, Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children's Books
Age range: 3-7
Denise Vega won the 2018 Crystal Kite Award for If your Monster won’t go to Bed, and spoke at the fall conference for Rocky Mountain Chapter of SCBWI. She has also presented at other conferences that I have attended. Denise is a lovely person, and very encouraging to other writers. So I wanted to support her in buying her book. Plus, who could resist this story?
Time for bed!
Who hates those words more than anything?
That’s right. Your monster.
But we all know what happens when a monster doesn’t get enough sleep: massive monster tantrums, refusing to join the Sneak-Up-and-Scare-Your-Sister game, and falling asleep in his slug mush.
This book offers helpful suggestions for what to do if your monster won’t go to bed. Your parents won’t be able to help. The narrator runs through various things not to do in putting a monster to bed, such as avoiding the Monster Stomp and counting sheep. Then she offers step-by-step instructions of what you can do. These steps include making a glass of oozy bug juice, taking an ice-cold bath, and singing Shock-a-Bye Monster “in the key of screech.” She cautions that you should be careful at getting too good at putting monsters to bed, or other people might ask for help with their monsters.
The text of this book is a lot of fun. The narrator speaks directly to the reader, which most children find very appealing. Almost every page captures the imagination in some fun scenario or awesome description, like “sour, green, dirty-underwear-smelling milk.” It has great read-aloud appeal. Creativity oozes from the pages in the options the narrator offers in what does and does not work to put a monster to bed. The language will charm kids and parents alike.
I also love the illustrations. Bright colors and straightforward pictures accompany the text. The monster is clearly a monster, but looks more friendly than scary. His ears—or maybe tufts of hair—match the little girl’s pigtails. The art is imaginative and engaging, but not overdone.
If your Monster won’t go to Bed is a delightful, inventive romp. Who knows, it could even help your own little monsters go to bed. But be careful: it might have the same effect on kids as the Monster Stomp has on monsters.