Night Monsters by Nina Poulos

cover image

Ill. by Cheryl Westenberg. NLA Publishing, Australia, 2013. ISBN 9780642278333.
Picture book. The subject of monsters in the night has often been explored in children's picture books. Some aim to allay fears while others offer strategies to ward off monsters to parents and children alike. This book published by the National Library in Canberra, offers a whole new look at the idea of night monsters.
Cackle the Kookaburra assembles all her friends to hear about the monsters in the night that they had reported seeing. Each animal in turn tells about their frightening experiences including the sounds they heard and how they responded. Their stories range from a witch to a monster snake hissing, dragon's wings beating and forest giants roaring as they passed. Just then a ghost appears with an eerie sound but Cackle Kookaburra recognises immediately that it is not a ghost but Larry Lyrebird who has frightened them all because he was bored. Larry Lyrebird admits that as a mimic he was able to make sounds which made the animals think that monsters were nearby. As Larry demonstrates his amazing ability he tells them where the sounds came from; the hiss of a tyre going down, the clack of a gate the roar of a motor bike and the screech of a white cockatoo. The animals all agree that Larry can stay if he promises not to scare them again.
The story is told in rhyming verse with full page illustrations showing the imaginary creatures scaring the animal telling its story. The book ends with a double page spread of information and pictures about the Superb Lyrebird drawn from National Library resources. The idea that it is imagination aided by sounds that creates night monsters could help some children overcome night fears, or, at the least, by reading the book they may learn about that amazing Australian mimic, the Lyrebird.
Sue Keane