Monster Friends by Kaeti Vandorn. Random House Graphic, 2021. 9780593125397
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Format: Hardcover graphic novel
Genre: Animal fantasy
What did you like about the book? Reggie is a little, brown, one-eyed monster with very useful shape-shifting skills; he can stretch his limbs to reach high shelves, grow wings to fly, and flippers to swim. Looking to take a break from adventure, he is planning to spend a quiet summer house sitting for his cousin in a seaside monster community. His peaceful solitude is soon disrupted when he meets Emily, an ebullient young rabbit-like monster. Emily is energetic and excitable, but she is also anxious to make a friend for herself; she comes from a large family of sisters and rarely gets the attention she needs. Despite Reggie’s initial reluctance, the two become fast friends and set off exploring forest and shore, meeting Emily’s family and some other sweet monster neighbors along the way.
There is a lot of action in this thick graphic novel once it gets going. Emily and Reggie fairly bounce from one adventure to the next, keeping their dialog going all the while. The pair have meaningful conversations about bravery and how to be a good friend even as they encounter a sea serpent and argue with Emily’s sisters. The episodes are broken up into manageable chapters, and the comic panels are easy to follow. There is nothing scary about these monster friends; young readers will love all of the cute creatures and the near-pastel color palette provides a calming effect in even the most frenetic of scenes. An interesting author’s note provides information about the origins of the characters, and several ‘how-to-draw’ pages are included as well.
Anything you did not like about the book? I found the introductory pages, in which Reggie is given a tour of his summer home but also has multiple interactions with a variety of cousins young and old, a bit confusing; they made getting into the book a little hard.
To whom would you recommend this book? Young readers in grade 2 and up who enjoy silly comics like the Narwhal & Jelly series or some of the entries from the Little Lit Library’s Toon Books will definitely love it.
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries
Where would you shelve it? Graphic novels
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts
Date of review: December 3, 2021