Monsters by Anna Fienberg

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Ill. by Kim Gamble and Stephen Axelsen. Allen and Unwin, 2018. ISBN 9781760293369
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Themes: Monsters, Fear, Confidence, Friendship. This beautifully presented picture book will have readers enthralled at the everyday things: plants, furniture, curtains, even a clothesline, that harbour a monster or two. They are peeping out from every corner of each page, scaring poor Tildy witless. She sees them when she goes to sleep, when she wakes, when she walks down the garden path.
They make her feel scared, and her parents try to comfort her without success.
At school a new boy called Hendrik sits next to her and draws monsters instead of listening in class. Tildy is eager, he is unafraid of the monsters, telling her he kills them with his sword.
Later he asks her to come and play and stay overnight in his tent in the backyard. Tildy is pleased to go but when night comes around she becomes fearful and wants to go home. When she tells him that she wants to go, he is upset saying that he thought they were friends. She tells him why she does not wish to stay. Hendrik knows just what to do, and he draws her monster, helping her defuse her fear.
This lovely book about confronting your fears and sharing them with others, will be a treat to read out loud in class, encouraging children to look closely at the wonderfully descriptive illustrations.
Kim Gamble, who has illustrated many of Fienberg's books, died during the development of this book and the finishing was taken on by Stephen Axelsen, illustrator and friend. The finished product is stunning, with monsters peering out from every corner of the page. Fans will relish the touches of Tashi in this book dedicated to the memory of one of Australia's finest illustrators, Kim Gamble.
Fran Knight