Additional Book Information

Series: The New York Review Children's Collection
ISBN: 9781681374284
Pages: 160
Publication Date: May 12, 2020

Meet MonsterThe First Big Monster Book

by Ellen Blance and Ann Cook, illustrated by Quentin Blake



Have you met Monster? He’s not scary or mean like other monsters. He’s kind of tall and his head is skinny, and he’s purple. He’s curious about everything: the city, the river, houses, cars, trains, and what people look like, the park, the kids, the swings, the stores and clothes and stuff. It is all new to him. “Monster thinks the city is fine so he thinks he will live here.” So begins the story of gentle, playful Monster, who conducts himself with grace and courtesy, and in short order finds a home, a best friend, and a bunch of kids to play with.

First introduced in 1973, Monster returns in this omnibus edition of the first six stories of an extended emerging-reader series written not only for children, but also by them. Educators Ellen Blance and Ann Cook worked with schoolchildren to write stories a child would want, and be able, to read. While most children’s books are meant to be read by adults to children, these are stories children can read to themselves or to adults. The book includes illustrations by the illustrious Quentin Blake, and a new letter to children (and one to parents) by the authors.


I suspect that, secretly, [Quentin Blake] probably does have a magic pencil . . . he defies the limits of the visual by evoking sound: saucepans crash, birds screech, flutes toot. His hairy monsters, weird animals, knowing children and baffled adults threaten to leap off the paper. Noses point, arms flap, legs twist at impossible angles . . . Movement, freedom, escape are of the essence. And in every case, the open line and feeling of improvisation allow readers space to let their own imagination work on how characters might look and behave.
—Jenny Uglow, The Guardian

Sometimes when we meet an old book friend, we're disappointed. The book we remembered was so much more magical, so much better-written. We look back at it with an adult's eyes just doesn't measure up. Happily, that is not the case with the reprinting of Ellen Blance and Ann Cook's beloved Monster stories. Monster is every bit as purple and his adventures are every bit as delightfully logical, with the logic of a child's mind, just as I remember.
Jean Little Library: The Library and Reading Journal of Jennifer, Librarian