MY MUMMY IS A MONSTER:
MY CHILDREN ARE MONSTERS
Monstrous Me Series, Book #1, #2
Written by Natalie Reeves Billing
Illustrated by Lisa Williams
Lollipop Lodge 5/5/2020
36 Pages Age 3—7
. . . . . DEBUT
Genre: Children’s Picture Book, Fiction
Themes: Monsters, Dual Perspective, Behavior
The Monstrous Me series is a split perspective book looking at situations from another point of view to help children develop a sense of balance, roundedness and wellbeing. Readers can literally and figuratively, turn the story on its head, and look at the very same situations from different angles. In this first book, ‘My Mummy’s a Monster’ an inquisitive little girl is convinced her mum is a monster. But, is she really? When we look through her mummy’s eyes, we see a very different story. (from Amazon book page)
“My mummy’s a monster that no one can see,
And nobody knows but my brother and me.
I told Dad, but he said he already knew.
So, now we think maybe our dad is one too!”
Why I like My Mummy is a Monster : My Children are Monsters
If you have kids, be it nieces or nephews, grandkids, or children you already understand what monsters they can be on a daily basis. But did you know your kids think of you as a monster? Aunts and Uncles are sometimes monsters, grandma and grandpa might be monsters once in a great moon, but moms and dads, well, they could be monsters more often than they are not. Think I’m kidding? Read My Mommy is a Monster, book 1 of the Monstrous Me series. This may be about moms, but all adults fall into this category, so consider this a story about YOU!
Monsters are good at hiding, which is why only your kids see you as the monster. Most mommy’s (mummy is the English version), turn into monsters right after breakfast (I’ll bet some turn as soon as they wake up). Mummy’s pull out spiked clubs to yank on the tangles in its daughter’s hair, enjoying every pull on every knot. Monster-Mummy rushes the kids because it is running late (not necessarily because of the kids). After school, mummy wants to go to the park, but will not drive the kids; they must walk the horrible miles while carrying their HUGE, bulky backpacks. Mummy is a cruel monster. Forced to go shopping with Monster-Mummy, “she tosses us into a hard, iron cage” and when they try to help, the monster flies into a “rage.” These unfair occurrences keep happening as the long day wears on.
Children will empathize with these two kids (one girl; one boy), understanding from their own experiences. But as cruel as it may sound, kids will also laugh at the situations. Mummy is an orange-furred monster with three clawed fingers and a thumb. Light blue horns stick out of her head. Dad is not a complete monster, at least in these kids’ world, so he looks normal except for the horns on his head and the long tail on his . . . well, you know where. The illustrations are humorous and active. Nearly each spread has movement and loads of interesting details.
Now, don’t think the kids get off so lightly. Mummy gets her say in book 2: My Children are Monsters. It is the same day, so readers are privileged to view what mummy thought of the day as compared to her children. The narrator of book 1 is now a pink monster and her brother is blue; both have short, yellow horns and, oddly, the monster-kids have four fingers and a thumb, with claws. This group of monsters must lose a finger as they age.
Mom (now the narrator), wakes up to a breakfast table in such disarray, it looks like the little monsters had a party. Mummy pulls out a brush to comb their fur but the two monster-kids scream as if she started a fire. All of this has made Mummy late, but the monsters won’t hurry up. After school, mummy takes the kids to the park. Because they are “moaning” and walking as slow as “zombies,” mummy carries both of their backpacks. At the store, for stuff the monsters need, she gets them seated in the cart and as they shop, the little monsters throw tomatoes at mummy. The two monster-kids are no better the rest of the day.
Parents will probably enjoy this story better than the first story. I certainly do! Many will see their children as the pink and blue little monsters without much imagination needed. But kids must admit, the story of them as monsters is also very funny. The faces they make are hilariously illustrated. The art is wonderful with its colors, details, and movement. I love the reflection of the kids in the pond. In book 1, the kids are unhappy and slumped over as they lug their backpacks. But in the pond’s reflection, both kids stand straight and smile, no backpacks in sight. (A clue?) Unfortunately, there is no comparison due to no pond reflection is in book 2.
Both stories end with bedtime. Mummy tucks the kids into bed and kisses them goodnight. In book 1 we see the young daughter-narrator tucked in bed, getting a kiss from Monster-Mummy, now wearing pink glasses and her orange monster tail. In book 2, the monster-son is tucked in and the monster-daughter is asleep on mummy’s lap (perhaps she read them a story.) The monster-daughter’s pink tail can be seen. In both versions, they wonder if mom/kids are really monster after all.
I wondered why, if creating a series, are books 1 and 2 together? Marketing wise, selling them separately makes more sense. If there must be a combo book, make it a third option at a higher price point (then there are three books in the catalog). The reason is simple. The books of mom as a monster and then the kids as monsters are together so children can learn perspective (and that many “stories” (like Tommy’s black eye), have two sides to it; two ways of seeing what happened. (Also, a third, if there was anyone watching Tommy get the black eye). Learning perspective is the object of My Mummy is a Monster and My Children are Monsters. Children, and their parents, will have a fun time laughing while learning to understand others. Before My Children are Monsters the author explains perspective, hoping kids will understand multiple points-of-view.
There are also little mirrors called a “monstrometer” and it keeps getting lost inside the pages. Readers are a sked to find them. Why? No idea. (Also, no key with answers.)
At the end of My Mummy is a Monster, a large monstrometer fills a page and the author asks readers to draw their monster-mummy. (I do not like this idea because then the next reader cannot do the same, since there is already a monster drawn in the frame. Suggest they draw their monster-mummy on a piece of paper they can then hang on the refrigerator—next to mummy’s drawing of her children as monster-kids.) At the end of book 2, kids are asked, “Are you a Monster-Kid?” If so, they can draw themselves as a monster-kid in the large monstrometer.
Overall, My Mummy is a Monster and My Children are Monsters are monstrously fun reads. Both are well-written, and in rhyme! Many sentences are basically the same, with a different name or mentioning the kids instead of mummy. One would think this makes the writing easier, but because it rhymes, I would think keep such similarity made it harder to write. Not only did the story need to make sense, it has poetic features that need to remain correct. As already mentioned, the illustrations are fantastic with loads of delightful details (like the pond reflection), eye-catching colors, and a sense of movement.
After reading these inaugural books of the Monstrous Me series, don’t be surprised if the kids start calling you a “monster-mummy.” Remember mom, it is only the monster in them speaking.
Illustrations Rendered in digital.
Available at Amazon: My Mummy is a Monster : My Children are Monsters
MY MUMMY IS A MONSTER : MY CHILDREN ARE MONSTERS (Monstrous Me #1, #2). Text Copyright © 2020 by Natalie Reeves Billing. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Lisa Williams. Published by Lollipop Lodge, Merseyside, UK.
Copyright © 2020 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
[1161-word count—review only]
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NEXT UP: PB – Fox and Bear by Lauren Reese & Rebecca Rose Moody
AND THEN: CB – The Story of Babushka by Catherine Flores & Ana Beatriz Marques – ACL Creative Studio