Wednesday 19 October 2016

Welcome to Monsterville: A Book Review

A couple of weeks ago, I purchased a book by author, Tamara Hecht. It’s the first in a series of children’s books set in the fictional town of Monsterville. The first in the series is titled, Welcome to Monsterville, and provides an excellent beginning to what promises to be a well written, well thought out series.

Welcome to Monsterville tells the story of Jen, a human girl who moves into the town of Monsterville. Monsterville is home to every kind of monster imaginable: vampires, werewolves, witches, ghosts, medusas, mummies, aliens… They all live here and co-exist despite their obvious differences. Jen’s first friend is Cal, a young, friendly but timid ghost who introduces her to his friends, Lucas the werewolf, Mia the witch, Vince the vampire, and Aileen the alien. This book follows Jen as she struggles to fit in with her new friends and her new school.

Hecht tells a wonderful story about acceptance in all of its many forms. While Jen struggles to fit in, she finds the advice of her friends to be less than helpful as each attempt fails to do what she needs it to do. It’s a struggle we all go through in various times of our lives. We go through it all the way through school, from Kindergarten all the way through to college. We go through it again when we get our first job, when we move onto different jobs and as we meet the different people our life paths bring us to. We find ourselves constantly trying to fit in with what our bosses ask of us, what our teachers and professors expect of us, and what our friends want of us. We try to adhere to the status quo - even when the status quo is far from who we are as individuals. However, through this journey, we eventually come to the conclusion that the only quo we should be adhering to is our own. Acceptance starts and ends with us. It starts with accepting ourselves for who we are, and continues with accepting those around us for who they are. It comes back to us when others accept us and don’t ask for anything more or less. Welcome to Monsterville explores this theme brilliantly, and though it is a children’s book, it’s a story an adult can, and should read. The lesson in is valuable to people of all ages, especially adults.

Something else I thoroughly enjoyed reading this is the idea of these monsters being wary of a human rather than it being the other way around. The story begins with Cal and his friends being, essentially, afraid of this human who has moved in. Her ways are different from theirs. She lives in a bright house with a neatly kept garden, surrounded by living things - a place that is, at first, frightening to the residents of Monsterville. However, upon getting to know Jen, the residents begin to accept her for who she is.

As I stated, the theme of acceptance is one we can, and need to, learn from. I live in one of the most multicultural cities in the world and I love it. On any given subway commute into and out of downtown, I share my subway car with people from all walks of life, people of different religions, races, sexual orientations and so on. I walk down the street and I catch smells of sushi, and curry, and kimchi, and perogies, and McDonalds - all within a block or two. I love it. I can sit in a food court in a mall and hear someone speaking in Arabic, another in Chinese, and yet another in Swahili, while I converse with someone in English, or in Sign Language. There are people in all kinds of different dress - a pant suit, jeans and a t-shirt, a sari, a turban, a hijab - all on their way to their destinations, walking down the same street. We can all learn something from Jen and her friends. Everyone is beautiful and unique in their own ways, and nobody should ever feel the need to conform. Everybody has an aura, a light unique to them, and it should shine brightly. Our diversity is what makes this world such a wonderful place, and we can learn from everyone who crosses paths with us. And we should.

If you want to pick up your own copy of Welcome to Monsterville (and you should), you can purchase it in e-book or paperback formats here: Amazon: Welcome to Monsterville Kobo: Welcome to Monsterville Kobo

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