Monsters Unite is the second picture book from the author Sara Sheridan, who is best known for the Mirabelle Bevan mysteries as well as a number of historical fiction books. In this case, she has had help from her daughter, Molly, for whom the story was originally created, and the colourful and imaginative illustrations have been provided by Glasgow-based illustrator Iain Carroll.
The story is about Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, and her increasingly lonely life spent being gawked at by humans and trying to hide from them. She has befriended the fish who live in Loch Ness with her, but they are able to travel all over through the rivers and due to her size she is not able to join them. The biggest nuisance for her, however, is the increasingly large amounts of plastic the careless humans toss into the loch. One day, though, Nessie discovers a map that leads to a Monster Tunnel Network, and so she decides to squeeze through and investigate. This leads her to meet many other monsters who live on the same network all over the world, including the Reverend Monstrosity, Tay Tay and Mais Oui. The trouble with their tunnels, however, is that many of them are blocked with rubbish and each of the monsters now lives in isolation as a result. Eventually, though, Nessie realises that if she and her new friends wish to change their situations, they must all work together.
Ostensibly, Monsters Unite is a story about making new friends and going beyond one’s comfort zone, a theme which will most likely be familiar to its intended readership. Equally, though, it is very much an environmental tale at heart. Ultimately Nessie’s life becomes happiest when all the plastic is cleared away from her loch and all the tunnels, and at the end she is happiest knowing she has a tunnel network to take advantage of when she needs break from the tourists. Iain Carroll’s illustrations are imaginative and hilarious also – each monster has a highly distinctive look, in some cases drawing on stereotypes from their home country that still manage to seem fresh and humorous instead of clichéd.
Photo courtesy of Stew Bryden.
Monsters Unite is out now, published by Little Door Books.