Thursday, March 9, 2023

Welcome to Monsterville. A Review

 Hello Friday Friends,

What a week! March feels long after that hug-and-kiss of February. Thank you, Heidi, at My Juicy Little Universe for hosting this week's round-up. I appreciate all the ways your poetry works in my life...helping me think, learn and get up and out to do!

This past week, I spent time with an ARC of Welcome to Monsterville by Laura Shovan, illustrated by Michael Rothenberg. This magnificent and silly book of illustrated poems took me back to childhood -- the emotional ending of that time, if not chronological. 

2023 Apprentice House Press

My mother had just passed away after weeks in hospice (This happened years ago). A friend comforted me by describing that period as sacred. I agreed.

Haven't we all been on sacred ground recently?

As I read the poems of Welcome to Monsterville, I smiled and giggled and was also a little sad. The journey of these poems is exactly how humanity should be; time spent with each other to lift each other up.  

Welcome to Monsterville belongs in child and adult spaces...schools, homes, coffee shops, libraries, and houses of worship. The monsters inside the book connect us to our humanity. 

An introduction to Welcome to Monsterville by therapist Dr. Mercedes Ballbe ter Maat, steeped in art therapy experience, helped me see how monsters help all of us: 

"But wait... am I saying that humans are monsters too? Yes, we are a different type of monster, but monsters nonetheless. Why?!? Because like us, monsters laugh and talk, play and cry, sing and dance, think and feel."

I'm a fan of letting poems speak for themselves. I don't enjoy too much explanation or analysis. I've selected a line from each poem of Welcome to Monsterville to create the cento below. I hope you'll take a trip to Monsterville soon. This book arrives on April 25th and is available for pre-order at your favorite bookseller. Let our friend Laura Shovan's poems and Michael Rothenberg's art bring you a hug. 

Golden Lines from Welcome to Monsterville!
A cento gathered by Linda Mitchell

Our tour is creature filled.
A monster bought the house next door.
Monster houses wobble, wiggle
guarding strawberry ice cream cones.

Flooey Bagookie!
well-fed monster
They laughed and hugged each friend
"Let's go monsters! We are free!"

A monster needs quiet.
I go to the green cave and listen for the monster's song
during long, lonely hours.
There is a monster in me called sadness.

It flies through the air
with leathery wings
O monster child.

Today's word is monster! Check out the padlet's a doubt monster.


  1. I am sorry to hear about your mother, Linda. Sending my sympathies and hugs to you and all your family. Letting monsters guide us in our world may be the best comfort ever, after reading the peek that you've given us from Laura's book. I have pre-ordered it, and look forward to it even more after your review. Thank you and wishing you a special kind of comfort during this time of saying goodbye.

  2. Linda, thanks for blasting this book out there--I know it's going to be important because indeed, we all contain multitudes of monsters. Your cento is gracefully composed and gives a good flavor of the poems, an appetizer!

    1. Thank you, Heidi. I love that Linda highlighted Mercedes' introduction to Welcome to Monsterville in this post.

  3. Linda, your cento is the perfect sneak peek into this book...perhaps it's best read when under a bed? ;) I look forward to reading it in April.
    There is zero doubt that I can relate to your padlet poem!
    Sending you a huge hug as you journey through your 'sacred time'.
    xo, Bridget

  4. A monster bought the house next door. I love that. And Linda, I didn't know your mother had passed. Sacred and sorrowful and a thousand other words. Thinking of you, friend. xo

  5. Linda, first of all, peace to you in this sacred sad chapter. Thank you for this lovely review of Laura's new monster collection. Your cento is a wonderful way to give us a taste. I'm trying to remember "Flooey Bagookie!" I want to add it to my vocabulary!

    1. Denise -- I had so much fun inventing words for some of the poems in Welcome to Monsterville!

  6. Linda, a cento poem is such a beautiful way to engage with Monsterville. Thank you for this review. I love the discovery you made with:

    “during long, lonely hours.
    There is a monster in me called sadness.”

  7. I am so sorry about your mom's passing, Linda. In Judaism it is a sacred time (sitting shiva) where others take care of the mourners. I hope you are getting care from those around you.
    And thanks for highlighting Monsterville--on my TBR list!

  8. Thank you, Linda, for the wisdom you share in this post. Naming our monsters is the first step in befriending them. I love your Doubt Monster, too.

    1. I love that statement, Patricia: "Naming our monsters is the first step in befriending them."

  9. Linda, your cento is lovely. I especially like, "I go to the green cave and listen for the monster's song / during long, lonely hours." I'm looking forward to Laura's book!

  10. Linda, your cento poem would make a great trailer with little animated monsters from the book jumping by. I would even add a slide saying:"There is a monster in me called sadness." OR a collage poem with quotes from the poems tucked in corners. You got my mind wandering about monsters inside and outside. Your padlet is growing so thanks for the link.

  11. Freedom seems like an important point here! Accepting our emotions is freeing. Love your cento, Linda. Congrats, Laura!

  12. I love that cento! Well done. With a line like "Fluey Bagookie," I know the book is one that my elementary-school friends will love!

  13. What a wonderful review and cento! If my copy weren't already on pre-order, this would have sent me to the bookstore. And oh, that Doubt Monster — so relatable.


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!