cover image Marilyn’s Monster

Marilyn’s Monster

Michelle Knudsen, illus. by Matt Phelan. Candlewick, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6011-6

A girl named Marilyn watches with increasing frustration as monsters of every shape, size, and cryptozoological origin pair up with her peers to serve as playmates, companions, and protectors. Her snarky older brother has a pink-and-green blob that he wears on his head, and “Timmy’s monster chose him right in the middle of a history test” (Phelan shows an enormous furry hand thrusting into her classroom through a window, pointing at the boy next to her). In Marilyn, Knudsen (Big Mean Mike) creates a highly sympathetic everychild experiencing a full spectrum of emotions: doubt, uncertainty, anger, confidence, and boldness. Meanwhile, Phelan (Druthers), working in watercolor and pencil, creates a wild cast of monsters, from pond-dwelling tentacles to cat-stegosaur hybrids and the fuzzy winged creature Marilyn eventually finds trapped up in a tree (“I got lost,” it explains. “And then I got scared. And then I got stuck”). Rich with feeling, it’s a warm, gently funny reminder to chase down one’s dreams, rather than waiting for them to appear on the doorstep. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. Illustrator’s agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Mar.)