Joanna Harrison's When Mom Turned Into a Monster
Children's books review by P.J. Rooks
Ages 3+ would probably enjoy this book. Ages 8+ could probably read it on their own.
Devil children -- that's the problem here! This poor lady's been cursed with devil children and while her days are so busy that she apparently has to start them by leaving herself a written reminder to feed the cat, she nevertheless begins the same as the rest -- as an ordinary, if not a bit stressed, human mom.
But she doesn't stay that way for long! When Mom Turned into a Monster, by Joanna Harrison, is a humorous, play-by-play account of an all-too-familiar parental transformation, complete with monster claws and hulk feet.
The devil children are fighting over the cereal toy when the phone rings and -- yikes -- company calling. Great, we'll see you around five. No problem. Yip, uh-huh. But the house is a mess and there's nothing to eat! Aaargh! The scream heard 'round the world goes something like this: "Children, make your hair and comb your beds and do it right!"
Of course they know what she meant, but, oh, those devil children are so easily distracted and while Mom is laboring away at toilet scrubbing, vacuuming and dusting, the children are upstairs happily re-casting their bedroom as a jungle camp -- an activity which goes undiscovered until the sprawl becomes so huge that it blocks the bedroom door. Imagine the look on Mom's face when she comes up to check!
The devil children fight all the way to the grocery store. Mom is wearing her mad face and her hands have turned huge, green and hairy. The insanity only gets worse, of course, given that the grocery store is nothing more than a ticking time bomb of stacked cans and glass bottles and what's that -- Mom's ear seems to be undergoing a bit of an elven metamorphosis… then she sprouts a lizard tail!
Back at home, more misbehavior gives rise to an extra set of radar eyeballs on tentacles which shoot out of the front or back of Mom's head, depending on need. Thus, she's not completely oblivious when a half of a bottle of ketchup is gleefully added to cake mix along with the eggs, water and oil.
The devil children gobble up all the food, eat the icing off the cake, trash the back yard, track mud on the clean floor, leave their clothes all over the living room and then, at the foreboding sound of footsteps tracking them to their jungle camp, they dive under the covers and hide. It's nearly five o'clock when the door bursts open. Mom has turned into a full fledged, fire-breathing, hairy-toed, fang-fingered monster! The devil children cower and wait for the end of the world…
And nothing happens. In her unsightly state, Mom evaporates into a chair and achingly reminisces about the good old days when she was a nice person. The devil children stand by, clearly appalled.
Can the devil children make amends for their evil ways in time to save the day? Can Mom recover from her beastly state before Aunt Jane arrives?
When Mom Turned into a Monster is cute and funny and holds a charming appeal to both sides of the home court. Parents will find an amusing sort of comfort in this poor lady's exasperated journey to the land of the mutant moms while kids will probably enjoy the obvious lampooning of an otherwise dire situation. In the end, they all kiss and make up and we learn that even after such an epically disastrous day, all is not lost and family love will still triumph.
Webmaster's note: What happens when parents pretend cleaning up isn't important? That's a funny story too. Check out How Cocoona Learned to Clean Up Even Better Than Her Parents.
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