Sometimes you just need to read a short, cute story about a boy and his monster. Am I right? Because that’s what we did this week and I’m here to share all about Monster and Boy by Hannah Barnaby. Accentuated by the whimsical illustrations of Anoosha Syed, this quick, fun read is perfect for before bed or a car ride.

We begin the story with the understanding that a monster lives under a young boy’s bed. He loves everything about the monster, even the smell of his stinky socks! But the boy doesn’t know he’s there; his mother has always told him that monsters don’t exist.

After hearing the mom say this yet again, he decides that tonight is his chance to prove her wrong. After she leaves for the night, he pulls himself out from under the bed. The boy takes a good look at the monster, then takes a deep breath and in that moment, the monster knows that he’s about to scream.

Seeing this is about to happen, the monster opens his mouth and… swallows the boy! The monster immediately regrets his decision to swallow the boy. Having him inside his stomach made him feel really icky and sad. From beyond his sadness, he hears a small voice. Where is it coming from? He knows it’s not his conscience.

No, it’s the boy! He’s alive and well inside the monster’s stomach, though he’d like to come out now. The monster would like that too but he’s not sure how to make it happen. Prior to swallowing the boy, he’d never actually eaten anything in his life, let alone bring it back out again! For now, they both agree that the boy’s mother was wrong about the existence of monsters.

The boy eventually drifts off to sleep inside the monster’s belly. The monster is glad for this because it gives him time to come up with a plan. But alas, his mind is completely blank! He has no idea how to bring the boy back. He sits quietly, waiting for the solution to come when… BURP! Yes, a burp! That’s sure to do the trick! But sadly, it didn’t. Hmm, maybe if the monster tickles himself, he can laugh so hard that the boy will come right out. But as we all know, it’s basically impossible to truly tickle yourself like that so the boy stays where he is.

If the monster were truly honest, he admits that he actually liked having the boy in his belly. Maybe he should just keep him there, safe and sound. Then he’d never have to miss the boy when he went to school. And wasn’t he always complaining about school anyway? If he kept the boy inside, it was basically a win-win for them both!

He drifted off to sleep, thinking of how happy the boy would be when he woke up to hear the news. But when the monster awoke, something was wrong! His belly was empty and the boy was gone! He was absolutely distraught; where was the boy?! The monster cried and cried. He cried so hard that he started to cough, so hard in fact that he coughed up something no bigger than a grasshopper.

But it wasn’t a grasshopper, it was the boy! But now he was so tiny. How did it happen? Neither of them can understand or explain it. The duo tries various schemes to make the boy grow to his original size, including using a magnifying glass and magical words like ‘abracadabra’ before they’re interrupted by strange noises coming from the boy’s own belly. He’s hungry!

The pair mount an expedition to the kitchen, which is certainly dangerous but also necessary. The monster is scared; he’s never left the boy’s bedroom before. After a harrowing trip down the stairs, they are both faced with their greatest fear… a voice calling out, ‘Who’s there?’ The boy is worried it’s his mother. The monster is ready to run back up the stairs, retreating to safety. But then he remembers that the boy doesn’t belong under the bed. And he kind of wants to prove to the boy’s mom that she was wrong about the existence of monsters.

So, he peeks through the doorway to the kitchen and finds that it’s a wreck! All of the cabinet doors and drawers are open, and so are the refrigerator and dishwasher doors. There’s another tiny monster rummaging around though the big monster has never seen her before. The boy says it’s not a monster, just his little sister in themed pajamas. And she’s on the hunt for candy!

The little girl seems unfazed by the sudden presence of a shrunken version of her older brother and a monster in her home. She says that if the monster helps her find candy, she’ll help them grow her brother back to his original size. She doesn’t seem to have a plan for how they’ll accomplish this but she says she’ll wake up their parents if they don’t help.

In true older sibling fashion, the boy tricks his sister into closing her eyes and counting backward from 100. With her occupied, he and the monster make a beeline for the bathroom to plan their next move. But oh no, it turns out that monsters are scared of water! There are three shiny, white objects in the room capable to holding water, though only one was at the moment. The monster was already suspicious so when the white object made a sudden noise, he was so startled that he lost his grasp on the boy and he tumbled into the toilet!

Much to the monster and sister’s horror, the boy thoroughly enjoys splashing around in the bowl. Gross! His sister helps fish him out with a net and determines that while their mother believes vegetables make you grow, she’s sure it’s actually rest that does the most good. The boy is reluctant to waste precious time sleeping. What if it doesn’t work and he spent all that time unconscious for no reason?

It’s then that the monster realizes that he’s the one with the power to fix the situation. It turns out that all monsters have the ability to make their wildest dreams a reality. They head back to the bedroom, where the boy tells the monster a sweet story of friendship as he drifts off to sleep. When they awake the next morning, the boy is back to his original size! The boy’s mother is none the wiser about the events of the previous night. But now the boy knows that the monster is real. From that night on, they happily snuggle each other to sleep.

This was a really sweet book that I think could be successful as a bedtime story for children 3-12 or as an independent read for the 8-12 age group. I’ll be back next week with another chapter book but I hope you’ll enjoy Monster and Boy for its adorable tale of friendship tested and strengthened.  

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