Feb 3

Dealing With The Inner Monster: A Book Review

It’s nice when I get contacted and asked if I could review a book.  I like free books.  I do make sure to let them know that if I think it’s garbage, then I won’t write a review about it and will happily mail it back to them so they can ship it off to somebody else.  But not this time.  This time I’m keeping the book!  No, it’s not just because the Dalai Llama likes it, because he does. He endorsed it, and he’s no dummy.  No, it’s because I actually enjoyed it!

But it’s not about me, is it.  It’s a children’s book, so I need to test it out on a child to get an honest review.  The book is from the  “Now I Know…” series written by Sally Devorsine.  The book I was given is called “Now I know..That’s It’s Better To Face My Monsters!!” It’s available at Chocolate Sauce Books.

It’s the story of crazy little Timmo, who acts up and behaves naughty because, as he finds out from the help of his teacher, there is a monster living in him that keeps wanting to get out.  Timmo learns that instead of repressing his monster, which in turn causes him to be unleashed in naughty behavior, it may be better to face his monster.

The message is pretty neat.  It’s a very Buddhist way of thinking. To me, it shows us that accepting the inner turmoil that is going on, and putting our impartial focus on it like a Jedi, causes it to dissipate.  Instead of reacting to the feeling, you know like punching a hole in a wall or killing an alligator, we should accept that it’s happening, and pay attention to it.  And that is the moral of this book.  When Timmo greets his “monster” it loses it’s power.

The only problem I see with this book is that it doesn’t seem to be right for a 5 year old.  Their target is actually children 6-9, and that seems to be the perfect age for this book.  We gave it a shot, though. But I think the message is a little above his head, and Noble is a smart little dude. How do I know this?  Well let’s look at two examples:

Example 1 – I asked Noble at the end of the book if he had a monster inside himself.  He declared, “No! Because then it would rip out of my belly and I’d be dead.” Technically, he’s right.  Unfortunately, in the book, the description of Timmo’s monster coming out is illustrated by a picture of an actual monster flying out of Timmo’s open chest.  It reminded me of Kuato from the movie “Total Recall”. So yeah, artistic metaphor aside, a monster jumping from your belly will, indeed, be the last thing that happens to you.  So while Noble didn’t quite grasp the meaning, it DID allow me to attempt to explain something to him, and also high five him for understanding how the human body works.

Example 2 – There is a really cool questionnaire at the end of the book.  This is great because it helps provide talking points for the complicated topic.  The very first question says

Look at the front cover of the book. […]Who do you think has the most power in this picture, Timmo or his monster?

Here’s a picture of the front cover of the book:

 

“Now I Know…That It’s Better to Face My Monsters!!” by Sally Devorsine

Noble’s reply was that the monster was obviously more powerful because, if you’ll notice, the monster is bashing Timmo in the head with a powerful punch.  I tried, using Noble language, to explain that Timmo is bowing to show an acceptance to the monster.  This creates a massive shield around his head, and while the monster’s fist shatters from the protective rays of the shield, Timmo uses his Heartpoon to nail the monster in the chest with the power of love. Sadly, Noble could not see past the intense power of the monster’s punch, and didn’t think that the bowing head shield would protect Timmo.  In Noble’s eyes, this monster is WAY more powerful.

There was also a question that asked the reader to draw a picture of what they think their monster looks like.  Noble refused to participate in this exercise, but I think that it, along with the other questions at the end of the book, were really neat, and a great way to open a dialogue with your kid.  Since Noble didn’t want to partake,  I thought I would participate and draw the monster that lives inside of me.  Here’s my inner monster:

Lance Loosewhistle…my monster.

His name is Lance Loosewhistle and he’s not so much of an angry monster as a river dancing, passive aggressive nagster.  He does a lot of irking as opposed to crazy terrorizing.  Still, he’s VERY annoying. And his tap shoes are loud and obnoxious.  He also has a banana hat that smells funny and he shows up anytime Gayle asks me to do a chore around the house.  Especially on the weekends!

My final analysis is that I think this book is right on in the message.  It is a message that adults need to hear, as well as children.  I believe it to be too complicated for a 5 year old.  But I would bet that in a year or two, Noble will be able to grasp it’s meaning, and I’ll be reading it to him then to see.  Actually, I take that back…I will be having him read it to me!

Thank you to Dana Humphrey at Whitegate PR for sending the book!
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