Title: Monster Needs a Costume
Author: Paul Czajak
Illustrator: Wendy Grieb
Publisher: Scarletta Kids
Word Count: 352
Story Element #1 CHARACTER A character is a person or animal, or in this case monster, who the story is about. Characters possess individual traits that are distinctive and easily identifiable. Characters can be categorized by their overarching value. The younger the reader, the more simplistic the character is portrayed. In this story Monster can be described as simply funny by the youngest readers, but more sophisticated readers will find him funny, creative, indecisive, imaginative, and maybe even wild.
In picture books, animals often play major roles as a literary devise not only to engage young children, but also to help them discover some deeper human characteristics without attributing these to people, perhaps even themselves. A child might laugh at Monster’s inability to decide what he wants to be for Halloween while all the while being unsure themselves. They might begin a discussion about what costumes are best suited for a monster, or themselves. Can a monster be a ballerina, a cowboy, a ninja?
Which leads me to talk about the importance of relationships between characters. A flat two-dimensional character would not be worth reading about. But one who interacts with at least one other character has depth that is impossible to achieve alone. Monster is not alone in his dilemma, his friend the boy is supportive and nonjudgmental as Monster works out his problem. The boy provides the reader with the narration and the insight into Monster’s fantasies. He helps Monster find just the right props, plays out each choice until Monster is tired of it, and proudly walks the streets with his unconventional friend.
And, finally, a true sign of a great picture book character is a series of books starring the same character.