Winnie is mad for monsters. She can’t resist the peculiar charms of long-footed Plurps with massive underbites, or sharply dressed, moustachioed Zups. Yearning for a beastly pet of her own, the youngster coyly bats her best Bambi eyes at Papa, delivers an urgent “Please please, pretty please” plea, and wholeheartedly promises to do all the daily chores, including picking up monster poo. Papa finally relents and they return from a trip to the Monsterium with a baby Oogly-Wump named Gus, who smells “a bit like pirate feet.”
In this gentle parody of the classic “can we get a puppy?” scenario, the thrill of caring for an impetuous, cross-eyed baby monster wanes as Gus wreaks havoc throughout the house. Winnie responds to the escalating challenges by referring to her trusty manual, Raising Your Pet Monster. The earnest narration is peppered with loving coos (“What a big, handsome, well-behaved monster! Yes, you are”) and world-weary admissions (“Whoa! Baby monsters are something else, let me tell you”).
Elise Gravel’s kooky cartoons are full of her trademark irony and wit. By three weeks of age, Gus is ancient in monster years, and instead of playing, the big lug would rather hang out on the chesterfield with Winnie’s father, sipping coffee and reading a book (albeit held upside down). As in her Disgusting Critters series, Gravel includes just the right dose of gross, with requisite scenes of nose picking and toilet humour.
Readers longing for a curious creature of their own need look no further than the “Adopt a Monster” drawing activity at the end of the book. Silly and offbeat, I Want a Monster! is more fun than a barrel of baby Oogly-Wumps.