How I Met My Monster

Written by Amanda Noll
Illustrated by Howard McWilliam

One night, when Ethan reaches under his bed for a toy truck, he finds this note instead: “Monsters! Meet here for final test.”

Ethan is sure his parents are trying to trick him into staying in bed… until he sees five colorful sets of eyes blinking at him from under the bed. Soon, a colorful parade of quirky, squeaky little monsters emerge from beneath the bed and compete to become Ethan’s monster. But only the little green monster, Gabe, has the perfect blend of stomach-rumbling and snorting needed to get Ethan into bed and keep him there so he falls asleep— which as everyone knows, is the real reason for monsters under beds.

With its perfect balance of giggles and shivers, this silly-spooky prequel to the award-winning I Need My Monster and Hey, That’s MY Monster! will keep you under your covers and you’ll soon be sleeping soundly.


From Kirkus
In a tardy prequel to I Need My Monster (2009), candidates for that coveted spot under the bed audition.
As the distressingly unflappable young narrator looks on, one monster after another gives it a go—but even with three mouths, the best roar Genghis can manage is a puny “blurp!”, silly shadow puppets by shaggy Morgan elicit only a sneeze, and red Abigail’s attempt to startle by hiding in the fridge merely leaves her shivering and pathetic. Fortunately, there’s Gabe, who knows just how to turn big and hairy while lurking outside the bathroom and whose red-eyed stare and gross drooling sends the lad scrambling into bed to save his toes. “Kid, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” the toothy terror growls. Right he is, the lad concludes, snuggling down beneath the covers: “His snorts and ooze were perfect.” As usual, the white-presenting child’s big, bright, smiling face and the assortment of bumbling monsters rendered in oversaturated hues keep any actual scariness at tentacle’s length. Moreover, Monster, Inc. fans will delight in McWilliam’s painstaking details of fang, claw, hair, and scales.
Frightful and delightful: a comforting (to some, anyway) reminder that no one sleeps alone.

From Booklist
This prequel to Noll’s I Need My Monster (2009) is reminiscent of the Pixar film Monsters, Inc., in which professional monsters visit bedrooms to scare young children. When little Ethan reaches under his bed for a toy truck, he discovers five pairs of huge eyes staring back at him. A number of potential monsters have come to compete for the role of scaring him into staying in bed all night. Having blown their cover, the monsters emerge and take turns auditioning to see who can scare Ethan the most. The monsters are quite small, though, and he isn’t easy to scare; in fact, Ethan is delighted by the monsters’ amusing antics. McWilliam’s illustrations, done in pencil and digital acrylic paint, are bright and wonderfully lifelike—so much so that even the goofy-looking monsters may be a bit too much for the youngest readers. For those children who are ready for a little scare, though, this is a clever, fun romp.

From Publishers Weekly
In this peppy prequel to I Need My Monster and Hey, That’s MY Monster!, Noll and McWilliam reveal how Ethan, a child, chose Gabe as his personal monster when he was younger. Three other vividly hued monsters compete for the job, under the direction of their teacher, Mr. Zee, but only Gabe, with his neon-green fur, spiked tail, and bulbous vermillion eyes, has the aptitude for scaring Ethan into bed—and keeping him there. Gabe, whose size increases exponentially after he snacks on some of the boy’s crackers, clinches the role thanks to some secret weapons: the lime-green drool that oozes out from his resting spot under the bed as well as his snorts and gentle threats (“Got any toes I can munch?”), which simultaneously give the boy shivers and lull him to sleep. Like the text, McWilliam’s brassy digital acrylics are more silly than scary, with the characters’ wildly exaggerated facial expressions amplifying the comedy.

From San Francisco Book Review, Amy Shane
In the most adorable tale exploring and explaining the mystery of monsters under the bed, How I met My Monster is a bedtime must-read story. Delightfully cute illustrations vividly spread across the pages will keep even the youngest of listeners captivated. The perfect balance of giggles and scares, little ones will no longer be scared of a monster under their bed, but ask for one instead. Taking what used to be a frightful nighttime routine of checking under the bed and in closets, Amanda Noll and Howard McWilliam, instead, turn this routine into the delightful prospect of gaining a nighttime friend.

From Bookworm for Kids, Tonja Drecker
Monster fans are going to enjoy every page and maybe learn a little more about monsters along the way.
Ethan is looking for a toy and runs across a strange letter. Soon, five pairs of eyes are staring back at him from underneath his bed. These are monsters—furry, cute, long-tailed, and sweet. But these monsters are there for a reason. They need to learn the rules when it comes to kids and bedtimes. One of the monsters is sure to be perfect for Ethan, but it will take a bit of testing to find out which one it will be.
This reminded me a bit of Monsters Inc. but with a sweeter vibe. Ethan finds having monsters under his bed and in his room a little surprising, but he takes it all in stride and enjoys the fun. The monster rules seem sensible, but lead to funny situations and make it clear that finding the perfect monster-kid match isn’t always easy. The monsters each bring their own personality and charm, and when Ethan and his monster are finally paired, it’s simply heart-warming. Even if it might mean a little bit of a scare along the way.
The illustrations are super fun to gaze through. Each monster is portrayed uniquely and holds enough emotions to make them easy to like/love. There are little details to bring the pictures to life as they follow the tale and help the humor and friendship grow more vivid with each page. It’s simply a cute story young listeners are sure to enjoy.

From Seattle’s Child, Sydney Parker
For older kids, How I Met My Monster is the forthcoming prequel to I Need My Monster. The story follows Ethan as goofy monsters emerge from under the bed and compete to become his official monster by scaring him into staying in bed. Their attempts, more funny than frightening, will have readers ages 4-8 giggling themselves into peaceful slumber.

From BooksforKids blog,
Author Noll certainly provides the impetus for getting kids to hop in bed and stay there, but the droll, big-eyed Ethan and the pseudo-dreadful monsters under the bed done up believably by artist Howard McWilliam in pencil and acrylic make this series prime monster fodder for Halloween, –not to mention anytime bedtime stories for kids who need a reason to keep their feet in bed, well out of the way of what’s under there.

From Jean Little Library, Jennifer Wharton
It’s too bad this isn’t released until November, because it’s a perfect Halloween storytime book – not too scary, but just scary enough. However, there are plenty of fans of the series who enjoy a good monster story any time of the year and you can always preorder!
When a small Ethan finds a note under his bed, reading “Monsters! Meet here for the final test.” he thinks his parents are just trying to scare him into staying in bed. He didn’t expect real monsters to show up – or that he’s the test! A set of furry monsters show up, accompanied by their spindly yellow teacher, and each takes a shot at scaring Ethan. As the tests continue, only Gabe passes each one, but Ethan eludes him and sneaks down to the kitchen for a snack. It’s too bad he doesn’t know what happens when you feed a monster…
This is a sweet story of the beginning of a friendship, complete with drool and threats to nibble toes! It’s clear from Ethan’s grin that he knows it’s all a game, but he’s enjoying the shivers that monstrous Gabe produces. It will probably remind a lot of readers of Monsters Inc. but it’s still its own creation, fitting into the series by adding the origin story of the two friends.
Verdict: This series, and the latest addition, are the perfect choices for kids who like something just a little scary but not too scary. Fun for Halloween or any time of the year.

From Children’s Lit Love, Mary Costello
If you were following along last spring when I wrote this post, or even a few weeks ago and looked closely through my list of our favorite Halloween-y books, then you know our girls absolutely love the “Monster” series written by Amanda Noll and illustrated by Howard McWilliam! A beloved babysitter gave the girls the first book in the series, I Need My Monster, for Christmas three years ago, and my grandmother gave our younger daughter the second book, Hey, That’s My Monster! for Christmas last year. Whenever these two books are in our book rotation, they are read every single day. Every single day. So, when Flashlight Press told me a third book is set to release November 1, 2019, I knew we needed that one too! After all, How I Met My Monster is the story of the beginning of Gabe and Ethan’s friendship — we needed to know how it all started!
In How I Met My Monster, Noll and McWilliam partner again to bring us back to the beginning, when Ethan is a toddler having trouble staying in bed to sleep at night. One night, while he’s looking for toys to play with, he finds a note about a “monster test” happening in his room that night. He assumes his parents are trying to trick him into staying in bed… Until the monsters arrive! Fear doesn’t enter Ethan’s mind, however, likely because these monsters aren’t the least bit scary. Rather, they’re pretty humorous. I mean, who would be scared of a monster who tries to roar and instead lets out a “tiny blurp!”
I love the action in each page and how Noll and McWilliam vary the layouts to keep attention going. I love how we see Gabe’s personality grow (as well as his body), and how Gabe’s personality consistently shows in each book. As a series, I appreciate how Noll has used a lot of the same verbage and imagery throughout the books. Though these are stories about monsters, we are comforted by the refrains that thread their way through all three (such as Ethan giggling, “No other monster can scare me like you!”).
As with the other books in the series, McWilliam’s illustrations are absolutely delightful. They’re richly colored and full of details that children love, such as clutter, toys, and emotion. And check out the endpapers! One of our favorite games to play is “Which monster do you want to be friends with today?” where we pore over the endpapers, discuss what’s appealing about various monsters, and choose one to be friends with. And we do this almost every time we read one of these “Monster” books — it never gets old, as McWilliam has drawn so many delightful monsters!
One of the most important things to know about the books in this series is that they are amazing read alouds! Are you someone who enjoys doing different voices when you read stories out loud? I enjoy it and my husband is ridiculously good at it, so we have a lot of fun getting into character with these. My girls will even correct our voices if we read the characters in a way that doesn’t match what they expect to hear or think they should sound like!
Full disclosure, if the idea of of monsters under his bed scares your child, then this may not be the series for him. Our girls have always found these books funny, and these monsters aren’t particularly scary, but you know what might be a trigger for your child better than I do!
Have you read these yet? Though this one doesn’t release till after Halloween and the whole series is great for year-round enjoyment, October is the perfect time to crack these open and get in the Halloween-y mood!

From The Story Monsters Ink Shelf, Darleen Wohlfeil
The amazing illustrations in this story will surely bring the fun of imagination to every page! Bedtime can sometimes be anything but a quiet experience, and parents have exhaustingly sought for the perfect overcoming win. In this fun-loving tale, Ethan meets his match as Gabe the toe-loving monster takes up residence under his bed. Proving to be the perfect monster to keep this little guy in his bed, it’s sure to bring some giggles and chuckles along the way. (Ages 5-7)

From Baby Librarians, Margaret Kingsbury
Do you know why monsters really hide under children’s beds? To make sure they stay in it. There’s a big test going on in Ethan’s bedroom to see who can keep Ethan in bed. If you’ve already read the other books in this series then you know which monster will win in the end. This is a funny picture book, with only the mildest of scare factors.

From Craig Press, Diane Prather (Prather’s Pick)
It isn’t uncommon for children to be afraid that monsters are hiding under their beds or in their closets. However, the monsters have met their match with the cute boy in this week’s picture book for children. How I Met My Monster was written by Amanda Noll and illustrated by Howard McWilliam. The illustrations are bright and colorful. This book is “different” when compared to other books about night monsters because the boy in the story doesn’t believe in monsters; in fact, he seems to be fearless.
…This picture book might be a great gift for a child you know—who doesn’t like to stay in bed, perhaps?

From The Ladybug Reads
I think this is one of the best “monster under the bed” picture books that I’ve read. The illustrations are absolutely adorable, and the story is really cute. Aside from the tendency of the characters to laugh or giggle their speech (which is awkward), the writing is pretty strong, too.
Recommended to readers looking for monster books that aren’t too scary. Fans of Monsters, Inc. will probably really enjoy this one!
Overall: 4.5 out of 5

From KissTheBook blog, Stephanie MLS
A prequel to the book I Need by Monster. We meet the same boy from the original book, Ethan, as he discovers there are monster tryouts starting in his room. The objective is to scare him back into bed. Some of the monsters do better than others and one seems to be coming out in the lead. Will Ethan find just the right monster to live under his bed?
A fun book that takes a lighthearted stance on monster under the bed. The art is just fantastic.

Featured on Iowa Public Radio, “The Best Books For Kids and Teens This Winter

About the Creators

Amanda, Noll, hey that's my monster, creativity, imagination, facing fears, humor, Halloween, monster, bedtime, sleep, scary, bed, siblings, sister, brother, fairness, caring

Amanda Noll
is the author of the award-winning
I Need My Monster series. She 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, hey that's my monster, creativity, imagination, facing fears, humor, Halloween, monster, bedtime, sleep, scary, bed, siblings, sister, brother, fairness, caringHoward 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

ISBN: HC 9781947277090  SC 9781947277786  ePDF 9781947277106  EPUB 9781947277113  KF8 9781947277120 Audiobook 9781947277571  Read-along Audio 9781947277137
Print Length: 32 Full Color Pages
Publication Date: Fall 2019 
Age Group: 4-8
Lexile Display: AD600L

Word Count: 1129

Activity Guides & More

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

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: 1129

MSL: 7.477

MLF: 3.533

Decoding Display: High

Semantic Display: Very High

Syntactic Display: High

Structure Display: Very High 

Guided Reading Level: N

Grade Level Equivalent: 3

Interest Level by Grade: Pre-K-4

Educational Description: Picture book, fantasy, Prequel to I Need my Monster, My Monster series

Story Elements: setting: bedroom at bedtime, plot and character development, Point of view: Young boy, Ethan, humorous tone, figurative language, illustrations enhance meaning and tone

Comprehension Strategies: identify cause and effect relationships, changes from beginning to end of the story, make predictions and text-to-text connections

Themes: monster under my bed story, monsters, bedtime