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Reviewed by Jamie Lee Wandel for Readers' Favorite
MON-STAA (Special Monsters Collection Book 2) by Diana Aleksandrova is a simple and sweet story of a child finding a friend in an unlikely way. Right away, we meet a little girl, Nikki, and her family. Nikki, her baby brother, and their parents are having a picnic at a park. Just as Nikki spots a furry friend, her brother exclaims that it is a monster. Nikki and "Monster" still play together and she sneaks him home with her. The following day, when her brother again calls out, "Mon-staa,” Nikki decides to stand up for her new friend. She cleans him up and we discover Monster's identity. He is a puppy dog!
MON-STAA is just the right length for emergent readers (toddler through preschool). Bright illustrations and eye-catching imagery that reinforce the story fill the book. My favorite image is of Monster before we learn that he is actually an adorable dog. I appreciate that the story encourages imagination and it would be a great story to show that sometimes appearance doesn't matter. Nikki and Monster have an authentic friendship. Whereas many families chose pets solely because they are cute, Diana Aleksandrova successfully demonstrates a friendship forming organically. Responsibility and independence are also introduced in this picture book when Nikki takes care of Monster by bathing him and asking her parents to give him a chance. I highly recommend reading this heartwarming story with a child, especially if your family is considering adopting a pet!