Monster vs. Boy
Karen Krossing, author
Karen Krossing wrote comics and poetry as a kid and dreamed of becoming a published writer. Today she is the author of many books for young readers, including picture books Sour Cakes and One Tiny Bubble and novels Bog, Cut the Lights, and Punch Like a Girl. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and regularly teaches writing workshops.
Read more about Karen.
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A boy wrestles with seeing a monster who shouldn’t be real and with finding a sense of belonging.
Morsh’s reputation for once having been home to monsters forms the heart of the town’s booming tourism market. For 11-year-old Dawz, these supposedly mythical creatures are a painful reminder of the monster-obsessed mom who left him and younger sister Jayla to be adopted by their maternal uncle, Pop. (The children have different fathers, but their mother refused to disclose their identities.) Dawz dreams of winning a local baking competition, like Pop before him; baking is a special passion they share. But when he discovers Mim, a small monster with gray fur and purple scales living in his bedroom closet, he worries that makes him weird—like his mom. Mim is struggling with changes, too. She doesn’t remember a time before the closet, but she’s growing larger—and despite her trepidation, she is pulled to explore the world outside this dark, dusty haven. Dawz and Mim discover they have a bond, and they both struggle with learning to accept themselves. In this thoughtful story that deals with serious topics but is lightened by humor, Krossing expertly navigates what it’s like to be young and unsure of yourself through the protagonists’ character arcs. Jayla and Dawz have different skin tones from one another and Pop, who is cued White; their multiracial family is described as “a mismatched crew.”
A moving tale of learning to accept yourself, flaws and all.
The question of what does and doesn’t make a monster is front and center in this dark yet earnest tale by Krossing (One Tiny Bubble). Eleven-year-old Dawz and his younger sister Jayla live with their uncle in Morsh, a town that was once purportedly the home of monsters, which haven’t been sighted in years—except by Dawz. Though no one else can see or hear it, he knows that within his closet dwells a small monster with gray fur and purple scales named Mim, who is not fond of the boy who lives outside her abode. But Mim develops an appreciation for Dawz and his family when she overhears them reading aloud from books. Their tentative coexistence is upended when Mim—who grows physically larger and exponentially more curious by the day—emerges from the closet on a mission to uncover the magic of books. Krossing employs an omniscient third-person perspective to offer insight into both Mim’s and Dawz’s innermost thoughts. With realistically limned characters, the author explores pensive themes surrounding acceptance of oneself and of others to deliver a sensitive rumination on personhood and kindness. Context clues imply racial diversity among the human characters. Ages 10–up.
Ages: 10 and up
Page count: 246
51/2 x 81/4