The Whatif Monster Chapter Book Series

A Sad Time for Tori

Children - Grade K-3rd
64 Pages
Reviewed on 07/28/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite

In A Sad Time for Tori by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt, Jonathan James worries about many things in his life. Fortunately, his friend, the Whatif Monster, is always there to offer support and guidance. When Jonathan discovers that his friend Tori has recently lost her grandmother, his first reaction is to avoid her because he does not understand how to help. Jonathan's mother encourages him to face his fears and visit Tori. Along with his friend Sam and the Whatif Monster, they try their best to cheer Tori up. However, Tori is very sad, she doesn't want to play their usual games and her only wish is to have her grandma back. The Whatif Monster has a plan but Jonathan is worried that it could make Tori even more upset. Will the Whatif Monster’s plan work and help Tori deal with her sadness?

There are so many excellent coping techniques for children throughout A Sad Time for Tori by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt. Although the plot is about overcoming grief, I feel this book can help young people deal with any type of change of circumstances they may face. The illustrations were beautiful and enhanced the story wonderfully; the details within the pictures would greatly aid discussion between the child and adult, where the child can discuss their feelings using the experiences and emotions of the characters. The characters also highlighted the importance of friendship, facing your fears, communicating your emotions, and having the courage to step outside your comfort zone. The Whatif Monster is not only a highly intelligent character, he also brings a touch of humor at times. The stages of grief are also covered perfectly for a young person to understand. I loved the comparison between human life ending and the natural cycle of nature. This well-written and compassionate book is a must-have for any child.

Lois Henderson

A Sad Time for Tori, an illustrated early reader in the multi-volumed Whatif Monster Chapter Book Series by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt, is about a boy, Jonathan James, and the green stripy-armed Whatif Monster who wish to console his friend, Tori, whose grandmother has passed away. Their friend, Sam, tells them how sad it made her feel when her dog died. They visit Tori, who is too sad to play, so they sit together with her to commiserate. When Tori asks why people have to die, Jonathan James repeats the wise words of his mother: “… death is a part of being alive.” The Whatif Monster then gets the children to play a game involving Tori remembering “the best, silliest, craziest thing” that she could remember doing with her grandmother. This is only the start of a joyful guide in dealing with personal grief in childhood.

Michelle Nelson-Schmidt’s A Sad Time for Tori is a compassionate story that should elicit positive feelings about death from its readers. A subject that can be difficult to consider is made more accessible by having a group of young children talk about it and have fun, even in the presence of grief, with the help of the friendly and empathic Whatif Monster. The multiple black-and-white illustrations effectively convey a sense of the friendliness of the children, and the use of direct speech enlivens the text and enables the different characters to assume their various roles in an interesting and stimulating way. I especially appreciate the fact that those who enjoy this book can read so many others in the same series, as well as the author having a website on which there are several free downloads.