I’m counting down to Welcome to Monsterville’s launch next Tuesday, April 25, and WOW do I have a poetry story to share with all of you. But first, I have one copy of Welcome to Monsterville to give away. Leave a comment to enter your name in the drawing.

It’s Poetry Friday! This week’s host is Karen Edmisten. Stop by Karen’s blog for poetry posts from around the kidlitosphere.

First, meet my mom, Pauline.

Pauline in her studio in Florida.

My mom has been an artist my whole life. She worked in oils when I was young — sometimes dabbling in stained glass or other media. Now in her 70s, Mom has found her niche in watercolors. She sends friends and family the most beautiful hand-painted cards.

But she still likes to dabble, taking classes to learn new techniques and to play. I was visiting my parents for Passover when a box of beautiful metallic paints arrived. I couldn’t resist! I wanted to try.

So… this is what I painted. A MONSTER.

When I take Welcome to Monsterville into classrooms and draw or write with students, we always talk about how their monsters are feeling today. Because of the golden cape, Mom and I decided that this monster feels powerful.

But I felt kind of stuck. I wasn’t sure where to go next with my monster. “Do you want to collaborate?” I asked my mother. “I’ll finish the base and you add the face, maybe some claws?”

“Yes!” she said.

I had to head back to Maryland before Mom finished the monster. A few days later, she sent me this photo.

Monster Feels Powerful
Beautiful Fashionable
Stylish Classy
Confident Strong

Whoa! I love the details here — the pearl choker and glasses, the fringe on the cape. But that wasn’t all. Wait until you hear what happened next.

My mother send me a text. “My Monster Poem,” it read.

My Monster Poem
By Pauline Dickson

My monster was not a conventional beauty.
In fact, she was quite the reverse.
But when she walked into a room
it dissipated the gloom 
and all stared in shock
for her poise and confidence were her rock.
She had an incredible effect on the crowd,
for they all rushed to their plastic surgeons
crying out loud,
"Please turn my nose into a snout!"

Whoa! When I read this poem, I’m amazed at what my mom is exploring — societal beauty standards versus this monster who radiates self-assuredness. That’s powerful. That’s the magic of working with the monsters.

Welcome to Monsterville publishes on April 25. Signed copies are available through the Ivy Bookshop. (Leave a comment with your order with a note about how you’d like your book inscribed.)

If you live in the Maryland, Washington, DC area, I have a few launch events coming up.

*Sunday, April 23, I’ll be a featured author at the Kensington Book Festival in Kensington, MD. Find me at the La Rambla Stage at 1 pm, where I’ll be having a conversation with author Steve Piacente about setting my middle grade books in Maryland.

*Tuesday, April 25 is publication day! Celebrate by drawing and/or writing your own monster. Be sure to tag me on Instagram or Facebook.

*Saturday, April 29, I’ll be spending Independent Bookstore Day at Growing Minds Bookstore in Catonsville, MD. Bring the kids for monster crafts from 12-2. We’ll be doing a launch party for Welcome to Monsterville at 2 pm, including a talk with me and author Susan Muaddi Darraj (Farah Rocks Fifth Grade).

28 responses to “Mom Makes a Monster! Plus a Book Giveaway”

  1. Denise Krebs says:

    Laura, what a wonderful monster story! I love the collaboration monster painting, and your mom’s poem. What a joy! This is so fun to read!

    “for they all rushed to their plastic surgeons
    crying out loud,
    ‘Please turn my nose into a snout!'”

    Congratulations on the book coming out on Tuesday!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Hi, Denise! I love the sound of loud/snout. My mom is so creative, but she’s never sent me a poem before.

  2. Your mom’s poem and monster adornments illustrate perfectly how we (every gender and generation) needs to continually question societal beauty standards and our own self worth. Your mom is powerful. Many best wishes for your book launch! I wish I lived closer to come support you. 🙂

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Amen to that, Bridget. My mom really is powerful. She’s 79 and still making discoveries about herself. I love that.

      And thanks for the book launch wishes!

  3. Rose Cappelli says:

    Thank you for sharing this collaboration with your talented and wise mom, Laura. It was such a treat to meet you in person at Highlights. Much luck with Monsterville!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Rose! It was such a wonderful surprise to meet you in person. I look forward to hearing more about your class.

  4. Irene Latham says:

    Laura, I love this collaboration so much…and it makes me smile every time I see that “fashionable” on the list of attributes around Monster’s head. 🙂 Can’t wait to get my copy…and yes, maybe even draw a monster of my own. Thank you! xo

  5. Linda Baie says:

    How wonderful that you’re collaborating with your mom, Laura! What she added is awesome & the poem, a wow for “for her poise and confidence were her rock.” I have my monster book ordered. Wishing you lots of fun with your visits, too!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Hi, Linda. In the past year, my mom and I have found all sorts of new ways to connect. It’s been very healing.

      Thanks for the good wishes!

  6. I loved your Mom’s monster, classy and confident. It’s great that you can do art together. What fun. I look forward to reading this book, seeing all the monsters and reading the poem.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Thanks, Janice. I love the monster too! We live pretty far apart (Florida and Maryland) but we’ve started mailing monster-bases to for the other person to work on. I just received a new monster body yesterday. Can’t wait to tinker with it this weekend.

  7. Linda Mitchell says:

    How fun! I love the collaboration. Pearls and claws…my kind of monster.

  8. Oh, what an awesome monstrous collaboration! Thanks for sharing this story, Laura!

  9. Monsters ARE powerful–they by definition don’t follow the rules (that’s WHY they’re “monsters”) and so have the freedom to be and feel and lead us down wider paths. I’m glad that monsters are not as scary as they once were–credit to Sesame Street for that, I think. I miss Grover.

  10. Mary Lee says:

    Three cheers for a mother-daughter collaboration!

  11. I loved seeing your mom’s drawing at Highlights, and what a great poem she did! Best of luck at the book festival. I’m out of town, but my friend Pat will be there as an author!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Marcie — she is still writing poems and making monsters! My mom has become a monster-making machine. It’s really a delight to see her playing. Sorry you missed the festival. It was a fun event.

  12. I love everything about this, Laura! ❤️

  13. Laura, it is wonderful meeting your mother, the artist. Her monster additions to your watercolor are adorable. I like how your mother places a positive spin on the monster’s looks and had a big smile on my face when reading the line about others running to the plastic surgeon. Monsterville sounds like a sensational book for all ages.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Thanks, Carol. Yes — my mother seemed to tap into something important with this poem, playful as it is.

  14. Laura, Your mom’s monster poem is delightful! And how kind her words: “Would you like a collaborator?” Thank you for this joyful peek into your pre-launch week. It was wonderful to meet you at Highlights last week. I’m looking forward to reading the book!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Hi, Patricia! It was great to meet you too.

      The monsters have been a fun way to connect with my mom.

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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