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Book Review: The Very Frustrated Monster
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The Very Frustrated Monster coverThe Very Frustrated Monster
Written by Andi Green
Illustrations by Andi Green
Monsters in My Head LLC
Release Date: October 25, 2012
Cover Price $14.99

Everyone has bad days. We all recognize this in the abstract, that bad days are a universal experience. However, a bad day is also very personal, a solitary experience that leads us to say such self-centered things like: “why this happening to me” and “it’s not fair,” while rebuffing commiseration from others by declaring “You don’t understand!” We know this isn’t true, because if the rule holds that everyone has bad days, then people understand, but it doesn’t feel that way in the moment.

This experience is the premise of The Very Frustrated Monster, latest in the series of WorryWoo monsters books by Andi Green. Each book in the series follow a different WorryWoo creature with a particular emotional problem, like confusion or insecurity.

In keeping with the conceit, this book follows Twitch through a day where everything seems to go wrong. He wakes up late, leaves his keys in the house, and misses the bus to school. As his frustration mounts, little things that on any normal day would barely merit a passing thought become building blocks in his bad mood. He starts feeling like a volcano about to erupt over his gym shorts not fitting quite right and the sun being too bright. When Twitch finally does burst, he starts taking it out on his friends before searching for who’s to blame. Since it’s a children’s book, Twitch of course learns a lesson about dealing with adversity, but it’s the relatable little details of the bad mood that make the ending so pleasing.

Green’s artwork shouldn’t be forgotten either. The illustrations are spare, focusing on tone over detail, but the atmosphere is rather lovely and just dream-like. It’s a nice companion to the story.

Although it’s a children’s book, The Very Frustrated Monster deals with the kind of day that resonates with adults as well. Some things, like bad days, are universal: whether it’s forgetting your password, or forgetting your textbook; missing the bus to work, or missing the bus to school; locking your keys in your house, or your car, or whatever you shouldn’t have locked you keys into, a bad day can seem overwhelming to anyone. More often than not it seems, adults are no better at dealing with their emotional valleys than children. If we were, we wouldn’t need the emotional outlets that friends, family, therapists and Boggle the Owl provide (and there’s nothing wrong with needing an owl to listen).

The point is, although I would certainly recommend The Very Frustrated Monster for the littlest Geek of Doom in the family, when you’re reading it to them, don’t forget that it can be a good refresher for adults as well.

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