Happy Halloween, for those who are into the tradition, in any of its many forms. It’s kind of controversial in Australia, but rather than dwell on the pros and cons, I thought I’d just take the chance to celebrate my all time favourite kids book about monsters – The Monster At The End Of This Book. The author is Jon Stone but, unfortunately for him, most kids remain convinced it was written by lovable, furry old Grover himself. It is awesome for a whole range of reasons, including kid-friendly humour, excellent read-aloud-ability and a little drop of life lesson into the bargain.
My kids enjoy this book as much as I did as a child. My battered 1970s Golden Book version is held together by love alone. The story follows Grover (of Sesame Street fame) as he comes to terms with his fear of the titular monster. He speaks directly to the reader asking for help to avoid the end of the book and the inevitable confrontation with a mysterious beast, but the reader continues to read! “You see, turning pages will bring us to the end of this book. And there is a MONSTER at the end of this book…But this will stop you from turning pages! See? I am tying the pages together so you cannot…YOU TURNED ANOTHER PAGE!!!” Grover tries nailing the pages together but the reader is too strong! He builds a brick wall between himself and the end of the book – but it crumbles as the reader bravely soldiers on.
If you read this book with loads of expression you are 100% guaranteed roars of laughter from the audience. As your little readers develop, it becomes an excellent learning tool, with repetitive language and lots of quirky punctuation to analyse. It also pushes readers to the end of the story. No chance of getting bored half way with this one! And when you finally get to the end, what terrible creature awaits you? Well, it’s Grover himself. He is, after all, a furry monster – albeit a loveable one. If you want to get all deep about it, I think there’s a message there about our own personal demons (monsters?); about the way in which we build up irrational fears that limit our progress in life. It sometimes pays to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ (to quote another famous book title!).
So, whether or not you’ll be roaming the streets in search of lollies this evening, I encourage you to seek out this gem of a monster book – which has been reprinted a thousand times since its 1971 publication, and now comes in all kinds of interactive versions too. Read it loud, make the actions and let the kids scream! It might just be that special book they share with their own kids one day.
Here’s a YouTube preview if you’ve never read it…