Sunday, September 25, 2016

September Spotlight on #OwnVoices: Marisol McDonald and the Monster / Marisol McDonald y el monstruo

By Monica Brown. Illustrated by Sara Palacios. Spanish translation by Adriana Dominguez. Lee & Low, 2016. ISBN 978-0-89239-326-8.
Click here to purchase.

Marisol McDonald loves the letter m, but there is one “m word” she does not like: ¡MONSTRUO! She knows that monsters are not real, but she hears them beneath her bed and her vivid imagination gets the best of her. After begging family member after family member to stay with her before she falls asleep, she tempers her fears by crafting her own monster out of an assemblage of soccer socks, knitting yarn, a purple polka-dot skirt, and a green-striped shirt. She names it Melody and fits it in a box beneath her bed. (“I know there’s a monster under my bed, but it’s my very own monster.”) But the bumps in the night don’t disappear! After Marisol’s family tiptoes downstairs together, they discover the source of the noise. SPOILER ALERT: the family’s dog, Kitty, is bouncing a ball against the wall. (“It turns out the monster...does have eyes and fur and teeth, but he isn’t scary after all.”)

The mixed-media illustrations are vibrant, textured, and reflect the family’s Peruvian-Scottish-American background by the possessions included in each scene as well as the blended nature of the medium itself. The images are presented at straightforward, predictable angles (almost like a television sitcom). Marisol’s energy and creativity are further communicated on the endpapers, which bookend the story with pale yellow backdrops featuring child-like crayon drawings of monsters and other fantastic beings.

The title, author’s note, glossary, and creator biographies are displayed in a balance of Spanish and English, with each language drawing attention. English words are introduced in the Spanish narrative, and vice versa. This, as well as Marisol’s endearing first-person voice, will come as no surprise to fans of other books by Dr. Monica Brown and Sara Palacios, including Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match / Marisol McDonald no combina and Marisol McDonald and the Clash Bash / Marisol McDonald y la fiesta sin igual. This book’s smaller trim size (relative to the other Marisol books, at 8.5 x 9.9 inches) makes it just right for shared reading—and a perfect before-bedtime pick. Find this book and start sharing tonight.

Reviewed by Elisa Gall

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