In Karen Krossing’s meaningful novel Monster vs. Boy, a child faces a monster and his own past.
Eleven-year-old Dawz lives with his sister and their uncle, who adopted the children after their mother disappeared.He is happy, enjoys time with his best friend, and nurtures his passion for cooking. He also suspects that there is a monster in his closet. When he finally sees the monster, he realizes that he cannot tell anyone. He fears they will think that he sounds like his mother, who mumbled about yellow feathers and a scorpion tail. Mim has lived in the closet for years, enjoying her small space and listening to Dawz and his family read. After Dawz sees her, she ends up in search of a new nest, hoping to find friends and the secrets to reading along the way. But Mim and Dawz continue to cross paths; they are connected. A book whose story of a boy hunting a monster is really about mental health and learning to accept the darkest partsof oneself, this story builds as more people join in on Dawz’s search—and as each new character offers him their own support. The adults listen to and reassure him. His uncle shares information about his mother, giving him truths as he is ready to deal with them. Eventually, Dawz is ready to face Mim.The story is set in a small town with a history of monsters; the community expresses ready belief in Dawz’s claims.Stated differences in racial and sexual identities also feed into themes of acceptance and support the idea that Dawz must appreciate everything about himself, just as those around him accept and appreciate each other.
Monster vs. Boy is a supportive novel in which a boy learns to address his trauma—with his community’s support.
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.
Dawz and Jayla live with their uncle, “Pops,” who adopted them when their mom left. Together they live in the town of Morsh, a town known for its connection with monster, which is precisely what Dawz suspects has been hiding in his closet. While Dawz does everything to keep the door locked with the monster safe inside, Mim– the cub-sized monster– is growing tired of her nest in the closet. One night, Dawz and his best friend, Atlas, form a plan to trap Mim. However, monster-trapping isn’t as easy as they thought, and now Mim is on the loose in Morsh. To save the town, himself, and maybe even Mim, Dawz and Mim must learn to confront their fears.
Monster vs. Boy is written from the perspective of Dawz and Mim as they embark on their individual adventures. Dawz hates that he’s the only human who can see Mim, and Mim hates that she can’t find a friend who can spin the magic needed to read her the precious books she’s discovered. As Dawz desperately tries to hunt down Mim, Mim works just as hard to escape the “horrible boy”. The story spins a tale of fantasy and action as it follows the fast-paced journey of two characters who, in learning about each other, are, in fact, learning more about themselves.
Though rich with fantasy, the novel explores the definition of family and the power of friendship, and the healing that comes from confronting the trauma we may have locked behind closed doors.
—Canadian Children’s Book Centre