reviewed by Chris Richards.
This is the first of a new, incredibly special series of children books called the Monstrous Me Collection written by Liverpool based author Natalie Reeves-Billing and illustrated by Lisa Williams. I read this with my children (5 & 8) in week 5 of the Lockdown. At its launch it’s marketed as not only an entertaining read but as a tool to help/support parents during this unprecedented emergency too. It has found fertile ground in our little family!
On the first read, and every after, it has inspired chuckles and holds all our attention like a warm hug. The theatre of turning the book over was universally appreciated and even got an ‘ooh’. The format of the book holds two stories, each read on the right-hand side pages, depending on which way you flip the book. As the titles suggest, the stories are about a family, one story each from a child’s and adult’s point of view.
The first, My Mummy is a Monster, explains why they think their parents might be monsters, giving examples of normal day to day activities. Hair and teeth brushing, the school run, shopping, bath then bed. The other story, My Children are Monsters then goes over the same day but now Mummy is telling the story.
The wonderful illustrations give clues that both sides are exaggerations, but they are both utterly charming in their familiarity. If there’s a book written about it and I recognise it then I take comfort that we can’t be the only ones! Lisa Williams’ illustrations are bright and joyful while engaging with subtle details giving opportunities to see more each time you read it. The lyrical wording and humour all but guarantee this as a firm bedtime favourite for most primary school aged children.
The intent behind the upcoming series is to leave the readers with a sense of balance, roundedness and well-being in an engaging and accessible way, obviously for children but I’ll admit it reminded me to take a step back too. The series will be inspired by Natalie’s own social enterprise initiative Split Perspectivz, based in Liverpool, using story telling as a therapy and to help children understand and appreciate family dynamics.
Published by Lollipop Lodge via Amazon and will be available to purchase from 5th May 2020. Check back with monstrousme.com for further details of the upcoming series.