Author & Illustrator: Elizabeth Rose Stanton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2018
Themes: monster families, middle child, being noticed
This is Bub.
His real name is Bob.
For little green monster, Bub, it’s not easy being the middle child in such a boisterous family. Maw and Paw can be very loud, his big sister Bernice is good at everything, and everyone dotes on The Baby. His parents are too busy with The Baby and praising Bub’s accomplished elder sister, Bernice, to pay much attention to Bub. One particularly grumpy day, Bub decides enough is enough and resolves to make his presence, or absence, felt. He finds a very creative way to remind his loving family that he deserves a bit of consideration too.
Why I like this book:
I love that opening line; it prepares readers for fun and surprises perfectly.
I love how the NYT describes Bub as a “small, celery-colored monster with pointy ears and a single tooth.” The watercolor illustrations are full of whim and humor, and kids will have so much fun looking for all the small details, like characters from Stanton’s previous books or the bunny!
This is a story for all children wherever they are in the sibling sequence who feel a little invisible or sensitive to all that noise. It is a great example of a strong story with wide appeal written with very sparse text and exquisite supportive illustrations.
I have to give a nod to the “Egyptian Scottish fold” cat too!.
I asked the author-illustrator three questions:
[JM] Is Bub inspired by a specific middle child? 🙂
[ERS] Bub was inspired by my brother who was the quintessential middle child. He was caught between some very strong sister-siblings, and was often lost and overwhelmed in the shuffle, so to speak. By the way, his name really was Bob.
[JM] Was the bunny in the illustrations from the beginning?
[ERS] I love that you ask about Bunny! Stuffed animals and, indeed, many toys in general are a great comfort to children; they certainly were for me! I’m not quite sure where the idea of making it a bunny came from, but I wanted Bub to have a little companion that was part of his little world. And of course, Bunny, as an extension of Bub, could be the subject of some teasing (even unintentionally, as when The Baby gets a hold of it)!
My first inclination was actually to give him a stuffed tiger like the one I had as a child, but decided to give the family a striped monster cat instead. So Bunny fit the bill for Bub’s comfort item. Besides, I like painting bunnies 🙂
[JM] Does character or storyline come first generally with you?
[ERS] The character almost always comes first for me, and almost always through some form of doodling (I call it procrastidoodling, because I usually doodle when I’m avoiding doing something else that I’m supposed to be doing). Both the characters for my first two books, Henny and Peddles, arrived this way. I know I’m on to something when I can’t stop thinking about and drawing (doodling) them. They usually arrive with that “special something” — Henny with her arms, and Peddles with his cowboy boots. Bub is a fair combination of some strenuous monster doodles and the idea of a family acting like little monsters toward each other (what family doesn’t, even unwittingly, right?). This led me to thinking about my own little monster family dynamics and, by extension, the plight of the middle child.
Have children illustrate their own monster family.
Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.