Everyone Is a Friend: How Monsters Add Color to Stories

by | Feb 11, 2024 | Children's Book | 0 comments

Photo by Daisy Anderson

Sneaky the Hairy Mountain Monster by Norma Fleagane is all about what would happen when a friendly but hairy monster is open to talking to other people.

There are monsters hiding. Now, these words typically send shivers down people’s spines, taking imaginations into overdrive. 

But for children’s literature, these fantastical creatures aren’t just boogeymen under the bed. They’re potent components for captivating stories. From playful goofballs to formidable foes, monsters can add a unique flavor to children’s books, igniting curiosity, sparking adventure, and, ultimately, enriching the reading experience.

Monsters often embody children’s deepest fears: darkness, separation, and the unknown. By encountering these fears in the safe space of a story, children can explore them without real-world consequences. Gentle yet mischievous monsters like in Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are allow children to confront the scary shadows and anxieties lurking in their own bedrooms. Similarly, Ursula from The Little Mermaid represents the fear of growing up and changing, a relatable struggle for young readers. By tackling these monsters head-on, protagonists like Max and Ariel demonstrate courage and resourcefulness, empowering young readers to do the same in their own lives.

Monsters aren’t always scary. Everyone is a friend. They can be catalysts for growth, pushing characters outside their comfort zones and leading them to unexpected discoveries. Totoro from My Neighbor Totoro is a giant, friendly spirit who befriends two young sisters, leading them on fantastical adventures that open their eyes to the wonders of nature. Monsters can also challenge societal norms and spark important conversations. 

Everyone Is a Friend

Let’s not forget the comedic potential of monsters! From the bumbling incompetence of The Gruffalo in Julia Donaldson’s book to the witty banter of Mike Wazowski and Sulley in Monsters, Inc., humor can make monsters relatable and endearing. Laughter not only entertains but also eases tension, making even the most fearsome monster seem less intimidating. Moreover, humor allows for complex relationships to develop between humans and monsters, fostering empathy and understanding. Everyone is a friend.

Modern children’s books extend the monster experience beyond the printed page. Augmented reality apps can bring monsters to life on smart devices, allowing children to interact with them in their own environment. Interactive pop-up books transform static images into 3D creatures, sparking imagination and encouraging tactile exploration. These interactive elements deepen the reading experience, keeping young minds engaged and fostering a love for books.

Of course, not all monsters are created equal. While a touch of fear can be beneficial, it’s crucial to consider the age and sensitivity of the target audience. Younger children might be better suited to friendly or silly monsters, while older readers can handle more complex and even frightening creatures. Ultimately, the key is to create monsters that empower children rather than overwhelm them. Stories should offer solutions and hope, showcasing that challenges can be overcome, even when facing the monster under the bed. Remember, everyone is a friend.

Monsters Add Color to Stories

Incorporating monsters into children’s books is a potent storytelling tool. They can be mirrors reflecting fears, agents of change sparking growth, or comedic companions bringing laughter. By understanding the psychological impact of monsters and their potential for diverse roles, authors can create stories that resonate with young readers, ignite their imaginations, and leave a lasting impression long after the last page is turned. This is an important theme in Norma Fleagane’s Sneaky the Hairy Mountain Monster, where despite Sneaky’s scary appearance, he is quite amiable and approachable.

So, unleash the monsters! Let them roam the pages, climb the trees, and dance with the words, for in the land of children’s literature, imagination reigns supreme, and even the most monstrous creations can lead to magical reading experiences. In children’s literature, from monsters to animals, everyone is a friend.

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