I was initially very skeptical about this. Both are illustrated by Howard McWilliam and while his digital pictures are bright and attractive, they're also kind of scary! This is perfect for the picture book audiences who love to giggle over the gruesome monsters and the cute twist of the ending, but how well would it go over with babies and toddlers? It turns out that these authors and illustrator have done an excellent job making these both appealing and appropriate for little ones.
Amanda Noll's Are you my monster? introduces the unnamed little boy of the picture books as a toddler in his pajamas, with an oversized head and big brown eyes. The story gets around the scary monster aspect by introducing the monster as a picture. The little boy is searching for his monster and uses the checklist to compare other monsters - a green dandy with mustaches, fluffy red creature with four eyes, hairy blue monster with a big tongue, and so on. Eventually, he finds his own monster, giving a toothy grin. The next page shows the little boy leaning over the bed, with his monster as a small stuffed toy and the last spread shows them cuddled up in bed together. Although some kids might get upset by the monsters, the "just a toy" ending should reassure them. The story also teaches kids comparison as they mark off the list for each monster! This book is a nice 7x7 size.
Jodi Moore's I love my dragon is a smaller size, about 6x6. It features the mischievous, bright red dragon of the picture books growing up with the unnamed boy. Starting as a baby, his dragon entertains, cares for, and accompanies him everywhere. He's shown peeking out in pictures, celebrating on the beach in a wave to the original picture book, helping the boy care for his baby brother, and curled up together for a nap. The bright colors are attractive and the cheerful exploration of daily fun will inspire small dragon fans.
Verdict: For parents and little ones who like the colorful pictures of McWilliams and just a little frisson of adventure and fear, these will be the perfect choices for snuggling up at bedtime.
Are you my monster? by Amanda Noll
I love my dragon by Jodi MooreISBN: 9781947277304
Published August 2019 by Flashlight; Review copies provided by publisher