It’s a pleasant Saturday morning. Matias wakes up with a rumbling in his tummy. The kind of rumbling that makes him head to the kitchen for toast. But when he approaches the kitchen and sees the back of a stranger there fear makes him come to a standstill.
This stranger is a different kind of creature. It has a mass of soft grey hair, a vivid yellow crest with white specks, there’s a spoon gripped tightly in its big orange paws, and its pink tail stretches through the kitchen entrance. Matias’s eyes almost pop right out of his head, wondering what this huge and scary thing with a familiar smell is. Maybe he is still in a dream state, maybe it’s just a figment of his imagination, and maybe this just isn’t a pleasant morning. Matias can do only one thing – call his mum for help then scram!
As she tells the story of a never-seen-before monster in Matias’s kitchen and as the story becomes broader, Strauch’s descriptive power tickles and fondles the reader’s mind. Matias returns with his mum, who at first assumes her son might have mistaken a cockroach, rat or bat for a monster. But truly, there is a monster in the kitchen. When she takes a look at it, the hair seems dark and rough; the crest seems golden and tough; the tail seems bristled and the paws coarse. From Mum’s perspective, the monster is scarier and possibly, dangerous. Dad is invited to help out, and when he emerges, he has a different description again for the monster. Patricia’s skilled use of adjectives is a kind introspection into how nothing is what it seems.
The eye-catching illustrations in this thirty-two-page picture book lunge into the reader’s mind, right from the cover art to the last page. The brush strokes are intentional and the illustrations are impressive and hilarious in a way that diffuses any form of fear that unfolds in each spread. Illustrator Natalia Aguerre’s repeated shades of blue, grey, pink, yellow and orange offer calmness, beauty and a window into children’s imaginations – offering them a friendly way to interpret the world.
Monsters are fast becoming a poetic movement in children’s literature. This delectable read offers a fresh perspective on what monsters could mean, by exploring human perceptions and how we see the world and everything within it. Inclusion and peaceful coexistence play interchangeable roles in this witty book, which offers a path towards amazing possibilities.
Reviewed by Ayo Oyeku
THERE’S A MONSTER IN MY KITCHEN
By Patricia Strauch
Illustrated by Natalia Aguerre
Translated from the Spanish by Kit Maude
Published by Tapioca Stories (2023)
September 2023 #RivetingReviews titles are available to buy from bookshop.org.
Ayo Oyeku is an award-winning Nigerian author and an Ebedi Fellow. He has authored eight children’s books and a young-adult novel. He is a contributor to World Kid Lit, where he reviews children’s books from around the world, and also interviews notable writers and publishers. When he is not writing, he can be found reading and speaking at literary panels.