Monster Needs a Costume
Written by Paul Czajak, illustrated by Wendy Grieb
Scarletta Kids Press, $16.95, Ages 3-6
Themes: Making choices, Halloween, dress up
As soon as back-to-school shoppers emptied stores of pencils, notebooks and glue sticks, the shelves were replenished with pumpkins, candy corn and costumes. For many parents, this becomes a trying season. Trying to ignore those jumbo bags of candy until Halloween. Trying to allay fears of scary sights and sounds. Trying to be patient as children mull their costume options before the big night!
Opening/synopsis: A delightfully indecisive oversized beastie tries on a variety of outfits and personas to find the perfect apparel for trick-or-treating. Told in rollicking rhyme, a boy offers a series of helpful and comical suggestions: “I said to Monster, ‘Do you know what kind you’d want to wear?’ / An astronaut? A fireman? / A giant Bartlett pear?”
Monster chooses to be a cowboy until he tires of it after one week wearing a 20 gallon hat, bandana and sheriff-starred vest. Next he wants to be a ballerina, but dances in a tiara and pink tutu to the point of exhaustion. “He kept on dancing, day and night, until his feet were sore./ But then he didn’t want to be a dancer anymore.” His third selection, a masked stealthy ninja, also fails to be just right. Will Monster be inspired once again before Halloween night?
Czajak’s story snaps along in brilliant rhyme, incorporating fantastic and unusual vocabulary words. Monster cowboy wants to rope some “desperados” and Monster ballerina spins in “pirouette, plié and tendu.” Monster ninja throws a “shuto and some round kicks” in the air.
Grieb’s Monster is a plump, purple furry fellow with double yellow horns, floppy tail, huge feet and fang-spangled jaws. As Monster imagines himself in various costumes, the images are black and white then burst into full color as he plays out his ideas. The illustrations are well-paced, incorporating large double spreads to show details. The silliest costume choices fill single pages perfect for sharing in a story group setting.
Why I Like This Book: This clever story is mild enough for youngsters timid about trick-or-treating, and funny enough to entertain older kids struggling to find the perfect original costume idea. The satisfying ending is a brilliant mash-up celebrating creativity and individuality. Monster Needs a Costume is definitely a delicious Halloween treat!
- Watch the funny book trailer
- Download Monster coloring pages
- This is a stretch – but since Monster contemplates dressing up as a Bartlett, make these adorable Halloween pear ghosts from The Pear Dish!
Portions of this review first appeared in North Shore Children & Families, October 2014. Read your issue online here.