Author: Richard Peck
Illustrator: Don Freeman
My rating: 4 of 5
Toby loves being at Grandma’s house during the day; every day is an adventure there. But at night, things are different. At night, in the dark, the monster comes and Grandma sleeps so far away, completely unawares. It seems like the best thing to do is to hide under the covers and hope the monster doesn’t notice him. But Toby can’t hide forever, and eventually he makes a very brave choice: he’s going to chase the monster right out of the house!
Monster Night at Grandma’s House is unique in that it is, to my knowledge, the only picture book Richard Peck has ever written. But while the writing style is necessarily different for this sort of genre, there are distinct traces of Peck’s style throughout. This is, in some ways, your typical “don’t be scared of the dark” sort of book, the sort you read to little kids who can’t go to sleep because of the “monsters” hiding under their beds. Only, this one doesn’t coddle kids and reassure them that “there aren’t any monsters; monsters aren’t real.” Rather–although it never shows any monsters, and an observant adult can see that Toby’s monsters are most likely the cat and his own shadow–this book never denies the reality of the monsters in Toby’s mind. It shows him having the courage to face his fears, however real or imagined they may be. And I think this is something that a lot of children would benefit from hearing. In addition to being a great story, Monster Night has some incredible ink and watercolor illustrations by Don Freeman which superbly accent the spooky, undefined atmosphere that Toby experiences in the story. I would definitely recommend Monster Night at Grandma’s House, particularly as a read-aloud for younger children (3-5 or thereabouts).