Somebody Needs to Do Something about that Monster! by Doug Cenko (+ a double giveaway!)

Hello, Picture Book Builders people!

This post is brought to you by my friend (and writing extraordinaire) Brenda Maier. ENJOY! 🙂

Nearly everybody loves a picture book with a puppy or kitten on the cover. But a picture book featuring an enormous blue monster? I’m picking up that one. Throw in some unicorns, witches, and a troll, and I’m already at the checkout. If you haven’t read author-illustrator Doug Cenko’s latest picture book offering, let me introduce you to Somebody Needs to Do Something About That Monster! (Peachtree, 2024)

The jacket flap describes the set-up like this.

“Merv is a nice monster. He sits outside the village, snacking on plants and blissfully minding his own business. Until…the villagers start complaining about ‘that monster.’ Merv assumes they must be talking about somebody else and decides to go take care of that nuisance himself!”

Now, some might conclude this is a story about friendship, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a subtle spin on the classic The Little Dutch Boy, a commentary on interdependence and acceptance, and an engaging romp through a delightful, classic setting.

Allow me to point out my six favorite things about this book!

  • The aforementioned creature characters—a monster, a troll, witches, and unicorns—exist in medieval-ish setting. To me, that evokes that traditional-fairy-tale feeling, setting the stage perfectly for story time. Who wouldn’t want to read a story set here?
  • If you’re one of those people who adore finding a map in the front of a book, you’re in for a treat. (Also, we should be friends.) There are maps on the front and back end pages. The “kingdom” map is peppered with labels like “Here be deep, dark, woods” and “here be witches.” The fun begins even before the story!

  • The hidden cover is another treat. A removeable dust jacket reveals a completely different cover image. (Note three fun things before I got to the title page.)
  • The story about a monster who wants to help others and be accepted by them is widely relatable. Everyone wants to be accepted for who they are. (Monsters…they’re just like us.)
  • I love a good refrain. “It’s just what they do” (or some iteration of it) appears again and again in different situations. The author/illustrator calls the refrain back to the end, tying the story up in a nice, satisfying circle. Ah.
  • This story has humongous heart, which leads to an important takeaway. Merv is a truly kind character who goes to great lengths to seek assistance for the villagers’ problem, but everyone wants something in exchange for their help. When the situation is reversed and the other characters need Merv’s help, he doesn’t want anything for himself. He just wants to do the kind thing, the right thing. (Sniff, sniff)

Doug Cenko (Viking in Love, Penguin Random House) lives in Chicago, Illinois, with his wife and daughter. He grew up in Indiana, and one of his first jobs was at a comic book shop…where he spent most of the money he made. Since then, he has worked at design agencies, an animation studio, and a live special-effects company. His most recent claim to fame was reading his book My Papa is a Princess to thousands of fans at Dodger Stadium. For more information about him and his books, please visit https://dugduggoose.com/about.html

Brenda Maier is a children’s author, gifted education specialist, and mother of five. Among her picture books are THE LITTLE RED FORT, THE LITTLE BLUE BRIDGE, and the fall 2024 Scholastic release THE LITTLE GREEN SWING, all of which are modern folktale retellings. The first two volumes in her debut graphic novel for young readers series, THE ADVENTURES OF PENGUIN AND PANDA, released in spring of 2024. She lives in Oklahoma with her family and enjoys visiting classrooms around the country to share her passion for reading, writing, and goal-setting. Her hobbies include tricking kids into thinking for themselves, reading way past her bedtime, and dragging her husband and kids to places they’ve never been, whether they want to go or not. You can visit her at brendamaier.com and @brendadmaier on Instagram.

GIVEAWAY: THE ADVENTURES OF PENGUIN AND PANDA (books 1 & 2!)

Penguin and Panda should not be friends. The very idea is absurd. Penguin likes to build things and Panda likes to nap. Panda munches bamboo and Penguin gobbles cheese puffs and jam-banana sandwiches. Penguin never powers down and Panda has a hard time powering up. There is no way their friendship would ever work. Except somehow, it does.

Post a comment below for a chance to win the first two PENGUIN AND PANDA graphic novels for young readers. For a bonus entry, share the post on Twitter–YES, TWITTER–and tag @SauerTammi and @MaierBrenda. For another bonus entry, please share the post on Bluesky and tag @tammisauer.bsky.social.

These 72-page books each contain 4 complete stories plus bonus material, including how-to-draw pages, fun animal facts, and jokes. Good luck!

As always, the winner is encouraged to post a review on Goodreads and/or Amazon.

WINNER:

Congratulations, Tina Cho! You are the winner of a signed copy of Goodnight School written by Catherine Bailey and illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld.

Tammi Sauer

Tammi Sauer, a former teacher and library media specialist, is a full-time children's book author who presents at schools and conferences across the country. She has more than 30 published picture books and has many others on the way. Her books have received awards, earned starred reviews, made lists, been made into musicals, and been translated into many different languages. Most importantly, kids really like her books! To learn more about Tammi and her books, please visit tammisauer.com and follow her on Twitter at @SauerTammi.

14 Comments:

  1. Love the big blue monster!

  2. Who doesn’t love a good monster story?

  3. I can’t wait to see The Little Green Swing because I’ve loved sharing Brenda Maier’s other 2 retellings.

    The Penguin and Panda series is brand new to me—I’m collecting GNs for younger kids in our elementary library.

  4. Danielle Hammelef

    I love the heart behind Doug Cenko’s book and must see if my library has it. Friendship stories like The Penguin and Panda books are always fun to read.

  5. Yay, I won! Love this blog. Thank you! And I love that this monster’s name is Merv! My uncle uses that nickname, & I’ve never seen it in a picture book.

  6. Janet Frenck Sheets

    I’m a big fan of VIKING IN LOVE, so I can’t wait to read SOMEBODY NEEDS TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT MONSTER. Doug has such a fun sense of humor.

  7. I’m in love with Merv! He’s my kind of monster!

  8. My kind of monster! Can’t wait to get my hands on Doug’s book and Brenda’s too. Congratulations!

  9. My kids and I found this book at my library a couple weeks ago and rather enjoyed it!

  10. Love this blue monster already

  11. Such great new titles to check out! Want to read them all.

  12. Love all of this post! Can’t wait to read these stories. 🙂

  13. Angie Quantrell

    Merv! I think I will love Merv! Thanks for sharing about his book. 🙂 Can’t wait to read it.

    And Penguin and Panda! More FUN!

  14. I love maps and I love monsters. Can’t wait to read this one.

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