This Jerry Pinto Picture Book Lets Kids Make Their Own Monsters
By Shivani Shah
We’re born blank slates. As we grow older, we imbibe what is taught to us: The Earth is round. Leaves are green. Dogs are cuddly. Monsters are evil, and evil people are monsters. And somewhere along the way, we stop believing in magic.
A child’s world is simpler, and children’s books are full of magical worlds of flying chairs, talking bears — and monsters that can be just as furry and cuddly and tickle-y as puppies. Monster Garden, by Jerry Pinto, is a picture book starring Sharmstickles, Chuppertyhoovers, Boochucks, and other monsters that live in your child’s imagination. This draw-it-yourself picture book takes place in, well, a monster garden, and the gibberish rhymes using words like bajography class and moobie pie are sure to leave kids in giggles. While most of the rhymes are short, there are two that might be clunky and awkward for kids to read aloud. This isn’t a big deterrent, though, because the rhymes are fun, and secondary to the main purpose of the book: encouraging kids to create their own monsters.
Priya Kuriyan’s creative black and white illustrations are just the supporting act. The main players – the monsters themselves – are entirely the vision of the kid readers. There are no outlines or rules to follow. Just blank spaces for kids to fill with any hairy (or not) and scary (or not) monsters they can conjure, using all their senses to create something out of nothing.
The leaves in this monster garden can be blue. The moobie pie (recipe not included) can contain broccoli or eggs or dirt. The monsters can be minuscule or gigantic. Heck, the monsters can even be dogs, like the Spitbull in the book’s Monster Hall of Fame poster. There is no right or wrong here, and that is the beauty of this story for kids aged 5 and older. Jerry Pinto’s Monster Garden encourages kids’ vivid imaginations and teaches them that monsters can come in shades of gray — or any other shade.