I just got my claws on this new children’s book, Where Monsters Go When You Grow Up—did I say “children’s book”? I meant adult fable. No, wait—children’s…—well, this book could certainly be both, though it would definitely depend on the mindset of the child[ren] involved. I think Monsters might be a little much for some, especially if they’ve never before brought up the topic of monsters-in-their-closest on their own, but then again, that choice would come from the parents who would best know their own lineage. But I definitely think it a cute story for age groups perhaps around the 7 or 8 (plus or minus) range, adults notwithstanding. And aren’t those some of the best books…something for children and adults? Monsters was good at putting “monsters” in a “good light,” if that be at all possible….
Note disclosure: G. Dorchak, author and illustrator, is a brother of mine. I have a couple…and one sister.
Now, sure, I could go into the in-depth deconstructionist psychic politics of why children see monsters (with or without closets) in the first place, wring out all the tried and true metaphysical psychologies, archetypal monster transference symbologies from parent to child and whatnot—buuut I won’t. And though the story is upbeat and fun, there was an undercurrent of melancholy…in growing up…or out…of childhood…and how that affects the parents. Not that I’ll admit it, but it caused me to shed a tear when I first read it.
I loved this book! Loved the artwork, the color, the props, the playfulness of its pages and story. Loved the out-of-the-ordinary character names “Esmeralda” and “Vladimir.” I always love to look at stuff in the background…under beds, pictures hanging on walls—the patterns and images on bedspreads. Readers familiar with my brother’s work will note ye old yak—Harvey the Yak—images in the book. I miss Harvey! Bring him back, Greg!
A handful of pages, however really stuck out at me, involving intentional or unintentional foreshadowing, turning points, and the poignant. I am quite intrigued with transition points, like “…until one Thursday evening…,” on page 25 (this passage actually also reminded me of Bogie narrating one of his film noir Philip Marlowe moments). I’m fascinated in how they manifest, how they’re handled, and what they mean. Turning points can make or break a story—or one’s life.
Perhaps I’m making too much out of all this, but these “monsters”—metaphorically or otherwise—are endearing. I loved how Greg transferred the monster role from himself to his child…and then it came back around to him. Full circle. I love how the monsters “broke the fourth wall” to display a subtle humor and vulnerability regarding their own self-awareness of the roles they play in all this drama.
But, sometimes a monster is just a monster, right?
In my humble opinion, this book isn’t just about the children in our lives, or being skeered…it’s about the adults—the parents. It’s how we’re all tied to each other. The cycle of life and death. How we transition. How we grow. The trials we champion…the help we get…and how we, in turn, apply what we’ve learned to those going through the very same issues we went through.
In short, Where Do Monsters Go When You Grow Up is about life.