Reading/Interest Level: Primary
Author: Drew Weing
Publisher: First Second
Charles has just moved to the big city of Echo and has a not-unusual bedtime problem: a monster in his closet that his parent's don't see. Charles is a budding journalist who takes his blog very seriously. He meets Kevin, another kid in the building, and Kevin gives him the scoop on the neighborhood and asks if Charles has any need for a monster specialist. Charles reluctantly admits that help would be useful and Kevin gives him a business card with the name of Margo Maloo, a monster mediator. Margo creeps in through his "penthouse" window and soon has his troll trouble sorted. Charles and the troll even collect the same monster figures, who knew? The discovery of a monster in his basement and his fear of being eaten prompt Charles to begin an investigation on his blog to find other creatures hidden nearby. His search leads to more mystery when local ogres accuse him of abducting a baby from their clan. Margo shows up in the nick of time to save Charles and begin the search for the missing child. Charles swears an oath of secrecy and together they find the missing girl and return her to her family. Margo decides to hire Charles as her assistant to keep an eye on him. Charles decides that living in the city will not be so bad after all.
This is a splendid graphic novel with outstanding illustrations and a fun inner-city monster drama. Charles' pre-conceptions of city life and monsters are challenged as Margo and Kevin introduce him to a different understanding of his surroundings. The story poses the question: how trustworthy are humans? Are monsters more dangerous than people, or is it the other way around? Charles begins to understand that things are not always as they seem. He chooses to do the right things as he begins to understand the monsters better. The monsters also have strong friendships and family ties and are as afraid of Charles as he is of them. Charles knows when he should not share things on his blog and respects the promises that he has made to Margo. Margo is a mysterious girl who's exact species has yet to be revealed. How human is she? How does she know the monster realm so well? How do they all know her? The mystery surrounding her makes her the perfect monster mediator. She is fearless and Charles is brave as he follows her with some trepidation into dank dens and back alleys. Maybe someday we'll come to know the monsters in our own lives and find peace among them. This is an entertaining read for those of us who enjoy a slightly creepy read before bed.