My monster mama loves me so! Let me tell you how I know. When I wake up, she tweaks my nose, tickles all my pointy toes, combs the cobwebs from my bangs, and makes sure that I brush my fangs. She gives me great big hairy hugs, bakes me cookies filled with bugs, and when I’m sick she’s twice as nice — she gives me lizard juice with ice….
Growing up as a child, I was fortunate to have parents that loved to read to me. As the mid-winter nights we spent curled up on that burgandy living room couch, huddled up under heavy blankets (caked in Golden Retriever hair), fade further into the past, and as I trudge through the protracted plots of the American literature canon alone today, I cannot help yearning for the days in which reading was not an assignment. Gone are the school nights during which I would stay up late — even past 10:00! — reading Captain Underpants on the closet floor, aided by harsh fluorescent light that could not — must not! — escape through the gaps around the door. Gone are the stacks of Magic Tree House books I absentmindedly abandoned in my playscape — apparently the tarp overhead couldn’t block out all the rain. Gone are the Scholastic book fairs. Gone are the library days, and gone are the hours spent wandering through those aisles. Gone is show and tell, the single-digit-aged kid’s literature club. To be honest, despite all the freedoms and joys I experience today, I wish I could go back. Quite frankly, I liked it better.
“My Monster Mama Loves Me So”, a personal favorite of mine, is nineteen pages long. A simple story, it is the narrator, a monster, telling the reader about why his/her/? mama loves him/her/?. Maybe it’s the illustrations that I enjoy; lush images of monster families prancing in the swamp, or vivid stills of little monsters playing beastball (baseball), or practically anything of the type can be found inside. Maybe the root of my appreciation is more abstract: perhaps, since it involves monsters, and not humans, I read it differently. All the things people think are gross — spiders, slime, etc. — are what the monsters love, and the monsters are afraid of humans. This is actually something my parents and I discussed: everyone is different in how they appear (the multifarious monsters pictured throughout the book all appear strikingly different) and in what they enjoy; it is up to the individual to assign an opinion to an object or activity. For example, “cookies filled with bugs”, to me, sound disgusting, but to someone else (in this case, a monster), they might be delicious.
Maybe it’s just a fun book.
Being legally, but not societally, a child causes odd situations. In the books I am assigned I see no illustrations; my exposure to art now comes from museums, not stories. Deep value is ascribed to philosophical masterpieces “I will not fully appreciate until I am older”. At the same time, I am not expected to read simple tales, such as “My Monster Mama Loves Me So”. And yet, I revisit my boxes and boxes of memories, setting aside mere minutes in order to travel back more than a decade.
Do I sound nostalgic?