Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Wow, the Monster at the End of This Book is turning fifty!

 Last week, a friend told me that 2021 is the fiftieth anniversary of The Monster at the End of This Book. My reply to that was that we wouldn’t have Deadpool if it wasn’t for that book. 

While I was just trying to sound clever, that might be true.

The Monster at the End of This Book has been a best-selling classic for generations so I probably don’t have to describe it. But, just like in case, it is a Sesame Street book where Grover sees the title of the book and desperately tries to keep the reader from finishing the book. He’s scared of monsters, you see. Of course, since loveable old Grover is a monster, he is the monster in the title.

According to Wikipedia, the book was designed to encourage kids to finish books. Since that idea terrifies Grover, the author is clearly relying on children’s innate sadism. However, the book’s significance is how much it explores the meta space.

The Monster et al is the not the first work to break the fourth wall and play with the meta. However, it is baby”s first metafictional book and it is a darn tooting good example of metafiction. Reread it now, I realize that it is not just a book about being a book. It also perfectly captures Grover’s voice. The different elements create a dynamic between two characters and one of them is you, the reader.

There is literally nothing that I can’t say about The Monster et al that hasn’t already been said. I have seen learned papers written about this book. The book is so profoundly about being a book.

I have had We Are In A Book! by Mo Willlems recommended to me as an even more meta children’s book. Which it is. And I know a sequel was written to The Monster et al that adds Elmo to the mix. (I don’t think it’s as good, by the way) However, none of that could have existed without The Monster et al and the legacy that it created fifty years ago.

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