KidLit Book Review: The Night Monster by Sushree Mishra and Sanket Pethkar


Synopsis

Every night, when the owl hoots and the shadows of the trees dance on the walls, the Night Monster creeps into Avi’s room and frightens him. One day, his sister suggests he write a letter to the monster, and Avi’s nights are not the same any more.


Details

  • Title: The Night Monster
  • Author: Sushree Mishra
  • Illustrator: Sanket Pethkar
  • Publisher: Karadi Tales Picturebooks
  • ISBN: 9788181903310
  • Publication Date: September 4, 2018
  • For Ages: 4-9
  • Category: Picture Book
  • Spooky-Scary or Spooky-Fun? ☠️ Scary.

I’d like to thank Karadi Tales Picturebooks for providing a free copy via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review and for providing a video so that I could appreciate the full lift-the-flap experience.


Review

With moody, atmospheric illustrations and a sweet, poetic story, The Night Monster is a sophisticated bedtime tale to reassure children that there is nothing to fear from the dark. Avi tells his sister Swati that he is scared of the monster that visits him every night. She suggests that he draw a picture of the monster and then lock it in a box. When that doesn’t work, she suggests that he write the monster letters; to his shock, the monster starts writing him back. Avi ultimately learns that the night monster isn’t scary at all, and he frees the night from its box.

Sanket Pethkar’s illustrations brilliantly convey Avi’s fears the beginning of the book is filled with high, looming angles that make the reader feel like a great beast watching Avi from above. Shadows fill every corner, and tree branches take the shape of the claws or tentacles of some horrible creature. As the story progresses and Avi’s fears subside, the shadows retreat and the tree branches begin to look like normal foliage. Pethkar’s expressive choices and rich color palette do a marvelous job of supporting Sushree Mishra’s spare, elegant story.

Told mostly through the letters between Avi and the Night Monster, the text alternates between funny like when Avi says, “You scare me with the hoot hoot noises!” — and heartbreaking — like when the Night Monster says, “I miss the twinkling stars. I miss the bright moon.” The clever ending is just as poetic and bittersweet. There is not a word wasted here; because of Mishra’s economy of language, the meaning and emotion flow off the pages and stay with the reader long after they have closed the back cover.

The Night Monster is a truly wonderful work of art. I’ve read this book several times — I still have to pause on each page to admire Pethkar’s illustrations, and I’m still astonished each time at how much Mishra accomplishes with so few words. If you know a child who is afraid of the dark…if you know a child who loves a good bedtime story…if you love a good story yourself…you need this book.


Rating

This is going on my Best of 2018 list. I give this book 5 out of 5 coffins.

5 Coffins


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