Although many (many) celebrities might beg to differ, writing children’s books is hard work. Limited vocabulary and limited space add to the difficulty of creating a story that (and this is the biggest challenge of all) will resonate with youngsters who are just learning how to read. There are scores of contrived, dull picture books that stand as a testament to the challenges of the medium. But occasionally, a picture book comes along that is so wonderfully pure that it makes you understand why some believe authoring a kids book is cake. Peter McCarty’s (Hondo & Fabian) Jeremy Draws a Monster is this sort of book. A simple, beautiful book that will join the well-populated ranks of Books about Imagination with gusto.
Too shy to go outside and make friends, Jeremy decides to create some company in the safety of his bedroom. Using a blue pen, he sketches a giant, horned monster. It isn’t long before the rude beast begins to get demanding. Food, music, board games – Jeremy has trouble keeping up with the requests. When the monster comes home late and commandeers Jeremy’s bed, the boy decides that it is time for his guest to hit the road. He hands the monster a ticket and a suitcase and shows him to the bus stop. After the bus speeds off Jeremy is by himself in a place he never has had the courage to go – outside. When a group of neighbors ask him to play, Jeremy decides to take them up on the offer.
Although it includes a monster, noise and bluster don’t dominate the book. The plot has a wonderful pacing that slowly builds, with a conclusion that young readers might expect, yet not see coming. While it won’t slay readers with action or huge laffs (as we librarians are so often drawn to during story time), this one should work well in a read-aloud setting. I can see kids putting themselves in Jeremy’s tiny, tiny shoes (well, socks actually) pretty easily.
Against the pure white backdrops that help to express Jeremy’s self-imposed isolation, McCarty’s pen & ink and watercolor illustrations vibrantly assert themselves.
I’m guessing this will be one of those books that critics, parents and kids will all like – it’s a big-tenter to be sure. Here’s hoping plenty of people crowd in.
Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.