I Need My Monster

Written by Amanda Noll
Illustrated by Howard McWilliam

One night, when Ethan checks under the bed for his monster, he finds a note instead:

“Gone fishing. Back in a week. –Gabe”

What will Ethan do? He needs a monster under his bed. How is he supposed to get to sleep if his monster is gone? Substitute monsters appear, but none are just right. Herbert’s teeth aren’t sharp enough, Mack’s slobbering induces giggles, Cynthia’s tail isn’t scary at all, and Ralph has nail polish on his claws! This will never work! How will Ethan ever get to sleep without his monster?

I Need My Monster is a unique monster-under-the-bed story for all monster-loving kids. The perfect balance of giggles and shivers will keep you under your covers, and you’ll soon be sleeping soundly.

creativity, imagination, facing fears, humor, Halloween, monster, bedtime, sleep, scary, bed, caring, i need my monster creativity, imagination, facing fears, humor, Halloween, monster, bedtime, sleep, scary, bed, caring, i need my monster


  • Wall Street Journal Best Seller List, for two weeks in October 2016
  • Alabama Camellia Award, 2010-11
  • Arizona Grand Canyon Reader Award, 2011
  • California Young Readers Medal, 2011-12
  • Georgia Picture Storybook Award, 2011-12
  • Mississippi Magnolia Children’s Choice Award list, 2012-13
  • Nebraska Golden Sower Award 2nd place winner, 2011-12
  • Nevada Young Reader Award, 2011-12
  • South Dakota Prairie Bud Award 3rd place winner, 2011-12
  • Virginia Reader’s Choice Award Primary, 2012-13
  • Washington Children’s Choice Book Award 2nd place winner, 2010-2011 
  • Wyoming Buckaroo Award 2nd runner-up, 2011-12
  • Iowa Regional Goldfinch Award, 2009-10
  • Storytelling World Award Honor Book, 2010
  • Indie Next Kids’ Pick, Summer 2009
  • Included on the California Department of Education Recommended Literature List
  • NSW Premier Reading Challenge Book in Australia
  • Scholastic Book Club Selection


From Kirkus Reviews
…an unusually well done double-debut.

From School Library Journal
The dark humor is perfectly matched to McWilliam’s creepy-cute artwork. Any potential scariness in the text and art is offset by the silly details that are included, making for a fun nighttime read for those who enjoy a bit of shiver as they are tucked in to bed. This would also make a great read-aloud for a slightly older audience at a night-themed story hour.

From Publishers Weekly
Dramatic in perspective, McWilliam’s exaggerated, digitally colored art renders the monsters in a spectrum of neon hues and outlandish shapes. The collaborators ably balance some bedtime chills with humor, and Ethan’s enthusiasm for his monster should prove infectious.

From Booklist
…turns the tables on monster fears …Noll’s slyly humorous text is a suitably wry counterpoint to McWilliam’s dark-hued, exaggerated paintings of the bobble-headed Ethan and his alternately scary and silly beasts. The entire effort strikes a nice balance between creepy and comforting, but especially endearing is Gabe’s early return home as he huddles beneath the bed like a faithful dog and says, “Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to start the evening with an ominous puddle of drool.” That’s friendship for you.  –Daniel Kraus

From Children’s Literature
In this humorous, comically exaggerated reversal of the usual fear of monsters there is plenty of good-natured scary stuff.  –Kenneth and Sylvia Marantz

From The Horn Book Review
Ethan’s under-the-bed monster has “Gone Fishing.” Missing the creature’s familiar “ragged breathing,” “nose-whistling,” and “spooky green ooze,” Ethan wonders how he’ll ever get to sleep. Substitute monsters apply, but none passes inspection. The humorous text diffuses bedtime fears… digitally painted illustrations bring the sort-of-scary, mostly-silly monsters out of their lairs. See our book app review here!

From The Sacramento Bee
Monster tale so sly it oozes excellence… superbly silly… irresistible… a perfect read-aloud for squirmy youngsters, especially boys…. exquisitely creepy, perfect for… all monster-lovers.  –Judy Green

From The Seattle Times
A picture book for children ages 4-8 about an under-the-bed monster who takes off fishing for a week, forcing the bed’s occupant — a monster-loving boy — to turn to totally inadequate substitutes.

From Scholastic Child Education Magazine, UK
Beautifully moody illustrations give this story its atmosphere of dark spookiness. The colours glow and these excellent monsters are the most interesting range of characters imaginable.

From The Clothspin Workshop
Love, love, love this book!!  First of all it’s a super simple, silly story with great dialogue between the boy and the various monsters…. The illustrations are gorgeous and perfect. Each monster begs for a very specific cartoony voice, which in turn makes this book a great read for storytime. And yes, someday I hope to adapt it into a full stage show with puppets.

From Kid People Classroom
…a funny, yet slightly “shivery” book, which is perfect for the pre-K-2nd grade set….  I especially love this book because it was such a fine addition to my monster book collection! I felt lucky to stumble across it at my favorite bookstore a couple years ago. The illustrations are very well done with unusual perspectives and angles, which add flavor and life. The story is great to read straight, or if you have a storytelling nature like me, it lends itself to a great set-up, and voices throughout. Read ahead to know each monster and what voice you’ll use. It is not “really” scary at all, in story or colorful illustrations, yet kids easily relate to the scary idea of creatures under the bed. The introduction of each substitute monster can be read in a way to highlight the suspense, build hold-them-in-the-palm-of-your-hand anticipation, and add just a bit of scare to make it extra good…

From 88mph to Roswell
I Need My Monster, more like You Need This Book…. The writing is ripe with dialogue for adding silly and well deserved voices to each of the monsters… The artwork of I Need My Monster may be some of the best coloring I have ever seen in a children’s book, it is of the quality of a high-end comic artist like Jim Lee in terms of mastery of the pencil mixed with the innocence of Tim Cratchit. One could argue that may McWilliam the greatest artist out there… The story, typeset and layout are just so complementing… Noll and McWilliam are the New York Yankees for kid’s picture books, with this product because they just drove it out of the park.

From BookRiot
This is a funny, beautifully illustrated little picture book, about a little boy named Ethan whose regularly scheduled fearsome monster goes fishing for a week. Obviously, he needs a monster…so he auditions some. The book is just a series of increasingly silly monster auditions. The illustrations are really gorgeous, but the true joy of the book is reading it aloud and doing silly voices for all the various monsters. Mine range all over, from a disgusting drool-slurping monster voice, to Christopher Lee…to, well, Marisa Tomei from My Cousin Vinny. Look, you probably have to be there. Maybe the best part of the book for parents is that it’s a pleasure to read over and over and over and over. It’s so well-loved around here, it long-since escaped the bounds of Halloween and is read all year round. That’s love.

From Bookfoolery and Babble
Okay, I’m just going to come right out and say it. I Need My Monster is my absolute favorite, so far, in today’s book pile. It’s funny, clever and the illustrations are fabulous. Adults will want to just sit and stare, taking in the detail — even the angles the illustrator used are fascinating…. I love the story as much as the illustrations. I’d give this one a perfect 5/5 rating, if I felt like using numbers…
The bottom line: Love it, highly recommend it, would buy it for any child I read to.

From Practically Paradise
Even my middle school students tried to pry it out of my hands to take home to read to their little brothers and sisters….a satisfying twist to bedtime stories that enables the child to crave scarier and scarier monsters, to laugh at our fears and to curl up in the end, deliciously scared of letting our toes dangle over the edge.… Be sure to put the book jacket out where students can touch and shiver with delight. Come on, how can you miss when you have an eyeball for the letter ‘O’?

From Monster Librarian
The same kids who loved [Newbery winning author] Neil Gaiman’s The Wolves in the Walls are sure to appreciate I Need My Monster, too. Highly recommended.  –Kirsten Kowalewski

From A Patchwork of Books
Between the simple hilarity of the story itself and the amazing, gorgeous illustrations, I Need My Monster is a brilliant piece of picture book work. Boys and girls alike are going to love it and it’s perfect for calming down bedtime jitters. I’m buying it for every kid I know. Simple as that. –Amanda Snow

From Ed Hemingway, author/illustrator of Bump in the Night
I Need My Monster is a must-read for any discerning monster-lover. A perfect bedtime companion. I’m keeping one copy on the nightstand, and one under the bed!

From Chit Chat
My new favorite picture book.

From Texas Child Care Journal in an article entitled “Talking to Children About Monsters.”
Amanda Noll and Howard McWilliam have turned a child’s nightmare into a dream-come-true! Noll’s story is enchanting, a child will giggle at the silly substitute monsters and even smile at the menacing Gabe because he is talked about in such admiration by Ethan. McWilliam’s illustrations are nothing less than perfection for this tale. His monsters are as beautiful as those from the Disney film Monsters Inc. and his backgrounds are so complete and detailed it leaves the reader right in the room with Ethan. I Need My Monster is perfect for children of all ages, everyone can appreciate it for different reasons. A great story to tell little ones who are nervous to fall asleep wondering what is lurking underneath their bed. This is a charming book of friendship and love, an outstanding debut from Amanda Noll and Howard McWilliam.”

From Madeline Books
“Fabulously illustrated, this is a wonderful book about change, loyalty, and friendship, all wrapped up in a lovable, huggable monster! Oh, wait, did I say lovable and huggable?  I meant SCARY!!!!” –Madeline Audrey, Children’s Librarian at the Rancho Santa Fe Library, on her blog,

From Antonia at Kepler’s, Staff Recommendation
…one of the best books I have ever seen for teens to read to children. The listeners will be laughing so hard and all wanting a monster of their own! Great pretend book. The monster voices are slurpy, silly, giggly, deep and just fun to make!” –C. Van Hook, Iowa Teacher Librarian

From A Penny and her Jots
Why I Like This Book: First off, I love the idea of a monster named Gabe. It’s so un-monsterly. And, the idea of a kid who NEEDS his monster is very creative. Ethan tries to replace Gabe, so that he can go to sleep. But it’s hard to replace a monster that has such wonderful characteristics…ragged breathing, nose-whistling, scrabbling, uncut claws, and spooky green ooze. As you can see, the language is perfect for a monster book. Don’t you love the word scrabbling? Although polite, Ethan turns down several monsters who would really like to sub in for Gabe. They aren’t quite up to his “monster” standards. The dialog between Ethan and those “applying for the job” is hilarious. A plethora of well-timed action verbs, along with reach-out-and-grab-you illustrations, keep the anticipation at a monster level. You will NEED to turn the pages. The fact that Gabe is so picky about his monster and its level of scariness will have kids giggling, which will hopefully help them deal with their own monsters under the bed. And let’s face it, some kids just love monsters no matter where they are. In that case, this book NEEDS to be added to their collection of monster books. With illustrations that are vivid, bold, and wholly appealing, and a story that ensnares you from the first page, I Need My Monster is genuinely brilliant. Perfect for story time, this one flirts frightening moments, yet is jam packed with fun and giggles. –Changing Hands bookstore Kids Team, 5 stars on GoodReads.com

From Just One More Book
Masterfully lit fish-eyed views, fur, fangs, claws and interesting perspectives make seven monsters just scary enough to spotlight the spunk of the picky, pajamaed lad who screens them… a really fun spin on bedtime anxiety and being afraid of being in your bed alone… and then being in control of that fear… Stunningly gorgeous….”  Mark and Andrea, JustOneMoreBook.com podcast.
Listen to the full podcast here.

From Read Another Book blog
This amusing, colorful book is a fun way to dispel a very common childhood fear. It is sure to become your child’s favorite bedtime read.

From Sacramento Book Review
…one of the best children’s books this reviewer has read recently….This is the perfect bed time story that your child will want to read night after night.” –Jennifer LeBrun

From Children’s Bookstore.com
…Howard McWilliam illustrated the book with incredible cartoon-style artwork of Ethan and his missing monster plight that is both endearing and disturbing. Together with Knoll the ingenious storybook duo have turned the monster under the bed concept on its head and their darkly witty take on it have made bedtimes a little less frightening for children everywhere.

From Book Nerd Mommy in “Books to Help Conquer ‘Monster Under the Bed’ Fears”
Children have imaginations that are larger than life, and really that is a beautiful thing. I love how they appreciate every wonderful detail of the world around them, yet still delight in imagining up fantastic additions. It’s a magical balance. However, things can go a bit awry when their imagination can lead to them being afraid of things they don’t need to be, such as a monster under their bed. Below I’ve put together some books that put monsters in a positive, friendly light. You know, where they either don’t look too scary or they look outright adorable and they are wanted instead of feared.In fact, most of them even have the setting of bedtime. Perfect for easing some bedtime fears or for a fun giggle or two before sleeping. Because, let’s face it, sometimes laughter really is the best medicine. And whether your child is afraid of monsters or not, a smile is always a welcome thing.

From Women’s Press
The drawings reminded me of Monster’s Inc. with all the charming saliva-dripping fangs, rolling multiple eyeballs, and colorful warts. …I think [McWilliams] has a fiendishly promising career. …A monstrously cute tale proclaiming…that monster’s can be our friends!

From Library Mama blog
…a fun and unusual premise, and the pictures match perfectly. …It’s a vivid style reminiscent of Pixar, with lots of inventive monsters and Ethan’s big-eyed reactions. This is perfect both for kids enamored of monsters, as mine is, and could help those afraid of monsters to put a more pleasant spin on them.

From OC Family
Children will laugh at the boy’s nighttime trials, but watch out, because if Gabe comes back, even fearless Ethan will get a shiver or two.

From BayViews (the review journal of The Association of Children’s Librarians of Northern California)
McWilliam’s delightful cartoony illustrations parade a menagerie of strange monsters while keeping them humorous and non threatening for the reader. Striking a nice balance between funny and creepy, this offering should please young monster lovers.”

From Madness by Mattie blog
This book is simply FABAWESOMAZING! (I couldn’t pick just one word to describe its coolness so you got three in one.)

From The Writing Room
…One of the first things that will grab your attention when you pick up a copy of I Need My Monster is the magnificent illustrations by Howard McWilliam, which depict the monsters in all their fanciful glory – from Ralph who is a professional monster who uses nail polish on his claws to Herbert who doesn’t have any claws at all. While I might skip this book if the youngster in your life has a real fear of a monster under the bed, I highly recommend it for everyone else. Amanda Noll uses humor and wit to explain the boy’s need for a monster under the bed, and why he is so particular about the required qualifications for a substitute monster. The end result is a charming story that most kids will find funny and not the least bit scary.

From Jean Little Library blog
[the pictures] glow with life and color and perfectly express the dark night, full of imagination. And the story is perfect…. This is a new and exuberant riff on an old idea.

From World of Julie Mom on the Edge
Zuzu hasn’t been this obsessed with a book since Sixteen Cows. I read I Need My Monster at least once a day right now. It’s a nice twist on the monster-under-the-bed classic: a boy discovers that his monster has gone fishing for a week, and calls in a series of replacement monsters. The idea is that the boy needs a scary monster under his bed to keep him from getting out of bed. He can’t fall asleep without one. The replacement monsters are ok, but they’re not his usual monster, and the boy is beside himself with worry, wondering how he’ll manage a week without Gabe (yes, his monster is named Gabe). Then — phew! — Gabe comes back, and all is well. The replacement monsters are all pretty hilarious, and there’s something sweet and compelling about a boy being comforted by his own personal scary monster, and about a monster being comforted by a boy who’s a challenge to scare.

From Associated Content from Yahoo
“Meet Ethan, a child like any other, with big brown eyes and a ready smile. Then meet Ethan’s nighttime pal – oh wait! you can’t because the monster under Ethan’s bed (aptly named Gabe) has decided to go fishing for a week. What is Ethan to do without a monster under his bed? How will he ever go to sleep without the fear of his toes being eaten off? Without the sound of scratching claws or labored breathing? Why, he calls for a substitute! Follow this silly tale written by Amanda Noll to find out just how Ethan will interview his substitute monsters while Gabe is on his fishing trip. Like Goldilocks’ unsatisfying porridge, Ethan’s substitute monsters are anything but worthy. Your grade-schooler will be howling with laughter when he sees a a monster with “no tail, but a long tongue to lick you with” and a hoity-toity monster with manicured claws and even a girl monster trying to scare a boy! Writer Amanda Noll and Illustrator Howard McWilliam hit it right on the mark for k-2 kids who might just need their monsters to sleep! An hilarious tale that rebukes all that us grown-ups believe about that monster under your bed.” –Shannan Siegwart Small

From Florida Library Youth Program
The illustrations pair perfectly with this unusual tale of friendship. The young ones may scream as you read, but when you’re done they will be asking for more.

…a treat to read aloud…. A perfect pairing [of illustrations] with the text…. ideal for pajama story times because the monsters are frightening but great fun.  It reads aloud well and offers readers a great range of voices and sound effects.” –Tasha Saecker, director of the Menasha, Wisconsin, Public Library

From Healthy Books
What a super turnaround of a story! Every child will want their own monster!

From Midwest Book Review, Children’s Bookwatch
Striking, illustrations of cinema-quality cartoon art add just the right touch to this bedtime book perfect for parents to share with young people savvy enough to enjoy the irony of the premise!

From Boy Book Club, It’s Good to Be the Queen
I admit I picked up this book because of its adorable illustrations, but I assure you the story is just as cute…. I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s sure to send your kiddos off to LaLa Land with a smile on their faces. –Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt,

From Inland Empire Family
Many children are afraid of monsters, but not Ethan. Ethan needs his slobbery, scary beast, named Gabe, who has suddenly disappeared. Join Ethan as monster after monster appears under his bed, and watch as he turns down each one, claiming they’re too dopey, well-groomed or – and this one’s the worst – a girl. Children will laugh at the boy’s nighttime trials, but watch out, because if Gabe comes back, even fearless Ethan will get a shiver or two.

From Once Upon a Good Time
I Need My Monster is a very funny book your kids will love! The illustrations are breathtaking and the plot is both lighthearted and meaningful.

From Storytime Book Nook
…The last story I read was I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll.  This was the only story I read that actually might be considered scary.  The illustrations, done by Howard McWilliam, are absolutely awesome.  A young boy can’t sleep because his monster was on vacation.  He interviews other monsters looking for long scary claws, creepy ooze, and a spiked tail.  When none of the other monsters come close, he worries that he won’t ever get to sleep.  Fortunately his monster returns early from vacation and he is able to shiver himself to sleep.

From PBwithJ.com
The sly humor of Noll partnered with McWilliam’s dark, digitally colored art, helps defuse nighttime concerns and replace them with the realization that a child can overcome their fears.”

From Bayviews
In a clever twist on the monster-under-the-bed scenario, Ethan is a young boy who can’t go to sleep without one. “The whole point of having a monster, after all, was to keep me in bed, imagining all the scary stuff that could happen if I got out.” When Ethan discovers that clawed and drooling Gabe, his usual monster, has gone fishing, he tries to get a substitute. One by one, a cast of silly and creepy monsters appear under Ethan’s bed ready to fill in, but the boy politely rejects each one. Manicured claws won’t work, a girl monster isn’t the right match for a boy, and a monster with a very long tongue just makes Ethan laugh. Our wide-eyed boy is finally content when Gabe returns early from his fishing trip (he scared all the fish away). McWilliam’s delightful cartoony illustrations parade a menagerie of strange monsters while keeping them humorous and non-threatening for the reader. Striking a nice balance between funny and creepy, this offering should please young monster lovers.

From Kiss the Book Blog
When Ethan checks under his bed for his monster, he is surprised to find a this note: “Gone fishing.  Be back in a week. –Gabe.” Well! This just wouldn’t work!  Ethan needs his monster in order to stay in his bed and sleep at night. How would he ever get to sleep without Gabe’s familiar scary noises and spooky green ooze? Ethan would just have to find a replacement.  Replacement monster after monster appeared under his bed, but no one was a good enough substitute for Gabe.  “Picky, Picky.” they each exclaimed.  After rejecting five monsters, Ethan was about to give up.  “Sorry I’m late, kid.” he heard.  Whew! Gabe had returned.  Fishing really wasn’t what Gabe thought it would be. There was no challenge. “Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to start the evening with an ominous puddle of drool.” 

This is a very well written and incredibly well illustrated picture book.  McWilliam’s cinematic artwork is brilliant. This is a great monster-under-the-bed book for all monster-loving children.  The story is easy to follow and will keep little ones on their toes!  

From TwoBookworms Blog
Ethan has a problem.  The monster under his bed has gone on a fishing trip, and Ethan has no idea how he’ll get to sleep without it.  Substitute monsters try to help out, but none of them is quite right.  Will Ethan’s monster ever return and help him back to sleep?
The monsters in this book are simply hysterical.  I love reading this book aloud, using all different voices for the characters, and students always find it funny.  The illustrations are bright and have the perfect mixture of slightly spooky and comical.  Even the sketchy end-papers are worth checking out a little more closely. This is the perfect Halloween read-aloud!

Interview with illustrator Howard McWilliam.

A suggested summer read on the Book It! website. 

Listed in Library Sparks Magazine

Written up in Children’s Writer (Dec 2011) 

I Need My Monster is one to take a look at…” Ed Spicer, a member of the 2009 Caldecott committee, in discussing books that he feels “fly under the radar” and are worthy of being in the Caldecott discussion, in an interview and video (8:20).

    About the Creators

    amanda, noll, creativity, imagination, facing fears, humor, Halloween, monster, bedtime, sleep, scary, bed, caring, i need my monster

    Amanda Noll is the author of the I Need My Monster series. Born and raised in Canberra, Australia, Amanda moved to the United States as a teen. After marrying her college sweetheart, she began working in the purchasing division of a private university (which was ironic, since she despises shopping). After a while, Amanda left the business world to attend to the business of raising children, and to concentrate on her writing. Her work has appeared in Hopscotch and Family Fun magazines. She blames her fundamentally twisted sense of humor on either genetics or being raised on a steady stream of Australian humor and science fiction. Amanda lives in Spanaway, Washington with her husband and children. The monster under her bed is named Gertie. You can find out more about Amanda and her work on her website.


    howard, mcwilliam, creativity, imagination, facing fears, humor, Halloween, monster, bedtime, sleep, scary, bed, caring, i need my monster

    Howard McWilliam is the award-winning illustrator of the When a Dragon Moves In and I Need My Monster series, along with dozens of children’s picture books. He is the cover artist of The Week (US & UK), and he lives with his wife and three sons in Cheltenham, England. The monster under his bed is named Brompton.
    You can find out more about Howard and his work on his website

    Book Details

    ISBN: HC 9780979974625  SC 9781947277311  ePDF 9781936261185  EPUB 9781936261161  KF8 9781936261178  Audiobook 9781947277588  Read-along Audio 9781947277014
    Print Length: 32 Full Color Pages
    Publication Date: April 2009
    Age Group: 4-8
    Lexile Display: AD600L 
    Word Count: 1142
    Foreign Editions: Chinese, German, Hebrew, Korean, and Polish

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    Activity Guides & More

    THEMES: creativity, imagination, facing fears, humor, Halloween

    Monster Parade 

    Watch Mrs. Bright’s monstrous 2nd graders at their Book Parade in Alpharetta, GA

    Leveling Information

    Lexile Measurements provided by Metametrics. Guided Reading Levels provided by Marla Conn using Fountas and Pinnel Guided Reading Text Characteristics.

    Lexile Display: AD600L

    Word Count: 1142

    MSL: 8.042

    MLF: 3.649

    Decoding Display: High

    Semantic Display: Very High

    Syntactic Display: High

    Structure Display: Very High 

    Guided Reading Level: M

    Grade Level Equivalent: 2

    Interest Level by Grade: K-4

    Educational Description: Picture book, parody; monster under my bed story

    Story Elements: setting: Bedtime in Ethan’s bedroom, plot and character development: young male main character, Ethan, problem and solution, detailed illustrations enhance meaning and tone, dark and humorous

    Comprehension Strategies: identify cause and effect relationships, changes from beginning to end of the story, sequence of events and compare and contrast “monster under my bed” stories

    Themes: monsters, bedtime