an open mind can be the first step in overcoming discrimination

by Nick Bland - Scholastic Australia, 2006
ages 2 to 8 years / funny, imagination

Things go amusingly awry when a monster writes a letter to his cousin Fred. The letter is accidentally delivered to the little boy under whose bed Fred lives. 

Then there’s all sorts of confusion as the monster and the boy get ready for a visit that was never meant to be!

Told by both the monster and the boy, we get to see both sides of the story – the anticipation, the apprehension, the preparation and the resolution. The boy is understandably nervous; after all a monster is coming to visit!

But for all that the monster looks like a classic scary monster, he has a heart of gold and doesn’t want to scare the boy – he’s hoping to make a good impression.

And although the boy is a bit scared, he keeps an open mind and does his best to prepare for this most unexpected guest. 

It’s a funny situation with a meaningful ending. 

The big day arrives and the boy and the monster have a wonderful time. Finally the monster moves in under the boy’s bed, with his monster cousin Fred.

The illustrations are primarily in shades of grey with splashes of colour on each page and there’s plenty of lovely detail. The boy’s sister features too – they’re cute kids doing funny things.

Monsters under the bed are a relatively common childhood event and I suppose we could say that there continue to be metaphorical monsters under our beds well into adulthood. There’s a suggestion here that sometimes the best thing to do with monsters is to welcome them, face them, even embrace them. There’s also the idea that the monsters may not be quite as gruesome as we imagined.

This is a great book for children who do have a monster under their bed, but it’s also great for storing up the idea that: worries and fears can be overcome - not everything we see as a monster is really out to hurt us - and while our fears may sometimes be real they can also be overcome.

There’s also a bit of uninformed discrimination happening from both the boy and the monster – they both stereotype each other and are a little surprised to discover their expectations were wrong. Interestingly, it's the willingness that both boy and monster have to meet and to do things to serve the other that helps them overcome their prejudices.

The story is written as a rhyme and that makes it great to read aloud. The font is a little tricky for an early reader, but there’s lots of fun to be had with anticipation of words coming in the rhyme. For example, 'I bet you can work out the next word in this sentence, even without having the picture or words in front of you':

I’ve never met a kid before.
I must remember not to roar.
Or hide behind his bedroom …..”
(Door, of course.)

A Monster Wrote Me a Letter  is lovely to read when:

There’s a monster under the bed
Fear and worries feel insurmountable
Making new friends looks hard to do
Others seem too different or too distant
You need a reminder that the best way to make friends is to serve others
You need a bit of a laugh

And the end result?:

"I'm never frightened any more
Of monsters crouched behind the door.
But one thing that I know for sure,
Those monsters really love to snore!"

You can buy A Monster Wrote Me a Letter via these direct links: Amazon - Book Depository - Booktopia