Monday, January 28, 2008

Scary Monsters, Super Creeps

My daughter is beginning to worry about monsters and nightmares and dragons and other fear-inducing creatures of the night. It's the age - imagination blooms and magical thinking takes hold about three, and monsters are as much a part of that as dressup. But perhaps they might feel better with a few stories about other kids with the same troubles, and they might even get a few suggestions about how to deal. Try these:

Go Away Big Green Monster!, by Ed Emberley

This book breaks down the big green monster - literally - telling each part to go away, one at a time, until he is gone. Also a cute way to introduce colours of face parts, this gives kids a great tool for banishing the spooky things that inhabit their mind's eye. I would give this warning - apparently, it helps to warm the kid up a bit and introduce it as silly, or show a page with only a partial face and have them guess, because Pumpkinpie figured out it was a monster book as a toddler, and won't let me open it, even two years later. Yeesh.

The Nightmare In My Closet and

The Alligator Under My Bed, by Mercer Mayer

The Nightmare was a massive hit back in the day, and remains a great classic, even spawning a short movie, while the sequel, Alligator, takes on another popular fear among the Very Small. The nightmare begins with a spooky monster in the closet and a boy barracading himself in his bed, with blanket, pop gun, and helmet for protection. As it turns out when he decides to take on the monster and shoots it with his pop gun, the monster is scared, and starts crying. So the boy tucks him into his own bed, and makes friends with his own haint. This was a favourite of mine as a kid, in fact, and I introduced it to Pumpkinpie this weekend in the interests of market research. She was edging away at first, worried about the monster, but I kept reading, and as soon as she heard the monster crying, she was intrigued, and scooted back over to see what was going on. She loved it, and now we are playing mommy and baby nightmare. Crazy kid.

Leonardo, the Terrible Monster, by Mo Willems

Leonardo was a terrible monster. He never scared anyone. He thought he scared Sam, specially selected for his skittishness, but it turned out he was just unhappy. So Leonardo decided that if he was a terrible monster, perhaps he could try being a great friend, instead. Cute and non-threatening, this is another winner from kidlit's current darling (well-deserved), though a lesser-known offering. Easily survived the Skittish Pumpkinipe test.

Milo Mouse and the Scary Monster, Louis Baum, ill. Sue Hellard

This boko is a gentler tale about a little mouse who night after night dreams of a horrible creature chasing him. Each night he receives another tip on how to get a good sleep, but none seem to help. Instead, he finds a "happy place" and one night, he remembers it in his dream, waking up. What he discovers is that a tiny little mouse keeps disturbing his sleep, wanting to play. It's a little cute, perhaps, but it might be a better direction for a kid ilke mine, who doesn't even want to open the green monster book above. Sigh.

Find these and other books for facing your fears at your local public library!

Originally posted on MommyBlogsToronto/Better Than a Playdate.

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