If you are looking for a book for children that challenges stereotypes, then I highly recommend I Can Catch a Monster written and illustrated by Bethan Woollvin.
Bo the Brave is on a mission to catch a monster. Her two older brothers think she is too little to catch a monster, but Bo doesn’t let that stop her. She sets off on a quest to catch a fearsome beast and prove her bothers wrong. In fact, Bo discovers many monsters: a griffin, a kraken, a dragon but… are they the real monsters?
Bethan has used a limited colour palette of grey, green, orange, pink and black and it works wonderfully, blending the monster-filled fairy-tale land with feisty female adventurer, Bo. Bethan has created the perfect authentic character in Bo. I think this spread with Bo in her bedroom is masterful; I instantly felt like I knew so much about her.
Bethan has added lots of details and blended the castle theme (the bear rug and shield) with Bo’s softer side, a little spotty pink cow, a shell on a shelf and trinkets that show us Bo’s love of nature. I love the way Bo looks longingly outdoors in her castle bed is wonderful. And then on the next page we see Bo start her mission.
“A little girl catches a monster and proves she’s brave” could be an engaging story as it stands, but Bethan takes this book to a whole new level by turning the stereotype on its head. When Bo encounters the “classic monsters” she sees a different side to them. And in fact, in the end, Bo does find a monster but not the ones she intended…
The end papers are another lovely touch. Here you see the opening papers with a map of the land that Bo is going to explore. When you finish the book, you can see the updated map with all the “monsters” Bo has discovered.
This is a book that will inspire children to think for themselves, stand up for what’s right and challenge stereotypes. Bethan’s illustrations are beautiful, packed with little details children will love and Bo is simply unforgettable.
Publisher: Two Hoots, Macmillan
Publication date: 9 July 2020
I am very grateful to the publisher for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. This voluntary review contains my honest opinion.