Karen Krossing: Addressing the Monster in the Closet

July 21, 2023

Monster vs. Boy by Karen KrossingWelcome to Cantastic Authorpalooza, featuring posts by and about great Canadian children’s book creators! Today’s guest: Karen Krossing. Take it away, Karen!

I’ve loved playing with words and making up stories ever since I was a child. Back then, I drank imaginary tea and served it to my imaginary guests. I pretended a goblin lived in my closet and a witch lived behind the furnace. Well, maybe it wasn’t all pretending. It felt terrifyingly real.

When I was writing my latest novel for middle-grade readers – Monster vs. BoyI tapped into that childhood fear of what might be in my closet. Of what I wanted to keep locked away in my closet. I am the boy in this book. The boy who huddles under his blanket late at night, listening for unexplainable noises coming from his closet.

And yet, I’m also the monster in the closet. Afraid to come out and see the wide world. Afraid of who I might meet and what they might think of me. I was a terribly shy child. So shy that my parents made a rule one summer to encourage me to talk to strangers. On a camping trip from Toronto, where we lived, to the east coast, I was assigned the job of buying the ice for the cooler each day. It was terrifying.

Also, I identify with monsters. I have often felt outside of the norm. Different. Misunderstood. I’ve written from the point of view of a cave troll in my middle-grade novel Bog, and from the point of view of a girl who stomps around on big monster feet in my picture book Sour Cakes. Monsters are more than a metaphor. They are a way to understand ourselves, our big emotions, our daydreams, and our nightmares.

In Monster vs. Boy, the boy named Dawz wants to practice Recipes of Extreme Greatness for the Bakers’ Brawl competition and forget about his mom, who left him and his sister years ago. He does not want to see a monster that no one else can see.

The monster named Mim wants to explore her closet’s nooks and crannies, and listen to stories through the door. She does not want to share her space with the horrible boy outside the closet.

Monster vs. Boy has a gorgeous cover illustrated by Markia Jenia. It’s published by Charlesbridge Publishing. It’s a novel about found family, facing our fears, and mental health. What if the monsters that haunt us aren’t monsters at all?

Since monsters of all sorts live in our dreams and embody our deepest emotions, they play a huge role in social-emotional development. I’ll be co-teaching a workshop on Social-Emotional Writing in Fantastic Literature with author and poet Laura Shovan through Whale Rock Workshops in September. If you’re drafting a picture book or novel with a monstrous theme or character (widely defined as an invented creature of any kind), I hope you’ll join us.

To hear me reading from Monster vs. Boy, please check out this video.

For ideas about how to share Monster vs. Boy with young readers, please see this Discussion Guide.

To learn more about Karen Krossing and her books, please visit her website or follow her on Twitter

2 Comments on ‘Karen Krossing: Addressing the Monster in the Closet’

  1. Thanks for sharing this post, Lindsey!

    Reply | 
  2. My pleasure! Best of luck with the book.

    Reply | 

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