Books about monsters can be an unpredictable topic in the children’s book genre – especially monsters that live under beds or emerge in the dead of night out of closets. If the story is too frightening, younger readers can be frightened; too cartoonish and older kids will be distracted by the unrealistic silliness. AJ Cosmo strikes a good balance in “The Monster Who Ate My Socks.”
Told in the first person by a nameless young boy (his age is never mentioned either, but he’s probably about 9 or so), this lively, cheerful tale follows the hunt for a sock-eating monster.
“Something was eating my socks”, the story begins and soon our young narrator learns that there is a monster living in his closet that feasts on dirty socks. Of course no one believes him – except his best friend, Ryan, and off they go on an adventure to capture this creature. With backpacks full of dirty, smelly footwear, the boys set a trap – and soon enough, out emerges the hungry monster. Upon capture, the boys learn the monster has a family and that if adults find out about them, they will be destroyed. Suddenly, these little creatures are no longer scary – or even a sock eating annoyance – and the boys try to figure out how to keep them fed and safe. (The key, it turns out, is bad homework – F’s work best!).
The story is silly, and on one level, adults may wonder what the appeal is – but it is indeed appealing to kids – probably best for 1st-4th graders. It is easy to read, with a conversational narrative, and children will enjoy the whimsical illustrations (the three eyed monster with a loopy tongue hanging out is strangely adorable). Maybe they won’t really believe the monsters are eating the socks – but they’ll love to use that excuse the next time something of theirs goes missing and Mom says, “What are you doing with…!”
Best of all, the “Monster Who Ate My Socks subtly addresses two important lessons – faced with a problem, don’t give up but rather find a solution, and real friends will stand by you no matter what – even in the face of a monster!
The Monster Who Ate My Socks
By AJ Cosmo
Thought Bubble Publishing
Recommended for 1st – 4th Grade
Reviewed by Jenny Tananbaum, NJ Kids Staff