Published by Alison Green Books, an imprint of Scholastic Children’s Books, 2019.
The Mist Monster is a stunning début picture book by Kirsti Beautyman. Penny and her dad have moved into their new home and are unpacking. Penny seeks the comfort of her mom’s old explorer hat. Dad finds it in one of the boxes but Peanut, the dog, runs off outside with it. Penny gives chase. However, the swirling mist makes finding her bearings, let alone the hat, difficult.
Luckily, Penny meets the mist monster. He’s an ethereal, yeti-like creature with huge yellow eyes. Penny decides to call him Morris. He offers to help her look for Peanut and the hat. Alongside Morris, Penny explores her new surroundings: splashing in the pond, climbing trees, and rolling down hills. Soon she is laughing and smiling. Penny has found a friend. The next day is sunny and Penny is saddened to discover that Morris has disappeared. Happily, she meets another new friend – Archie, the boy who lives next door. Now she has someone to play and explore with, whatever the weather. And every misty day, the three of them can all have fun together. The Mist Monster is a lovely testament to the power of friendship.
It’s a beautiful book to look at too – from the gold foiled cover to the delightful illustrations. I love the muted colours that Kirsti has used, in particular the greys and greens of the mist and the garden. Set against this is the striking white of the mist monster and the gorgeous coppery red of Penny’s hair and Peanut’s fur, a colour which is echoed in some of the plants and landscapes.
This is a thoughtful book and one which encourages empathy: the book gently touches on the theme of loss. Although it’s never explicitly stated, it is apparent that Penny’s mother has died. I feel that getting lost in the mist is a metaphor for how Penny feels emotionally lost in a strange new home without her mom.
Ultimately, it’s a hopeful book. Penny is buoyed by her new friendships, and the joy and exuberance of the final scenes are wonderful.
Suitable for children aged 3+
Thank you to Scholastic for sending me this book to review. I reviewed this book as part of The Mist Monster blog tour where Kirsti spoke to me about her initial ideas for the story. You can read what she had to say here.