It is with the greatest of pleasure that I break tradition for only the second time in four years of “Color Me…” This post isn’t about my love of food, film, or travel. Instead, it’s about my FAVORITE book as a little girl – “the MONSTER at the end of this Book” (1971). But really, this post is about my older sister Kristyn. And my little niece Charlotte.
P.S. I hope there isn’t a monster at the end of this post. 😱 🤢
Picture it – 1981. Little old me (who truly was little back then) sat on a couch in a living room in Connecticut. Books spread across the couch, my little eyes took laser focus on a Little Golden Book with a cute blue monster on its cover. I instantly recognized this blue guy – Sesame Street’s “lovable, furry old Grover.” Grover was waving to me. “Wassup, Grove?” I must’ve waved back.
And that’s how I imagine my love affair with this book began.
I ADORED this book. And I LOVED when my older sister, Kristyn, six years old than I, read it to me. Kristyn didn’t just read this book – she PERFORMED it. From page one, when Grover mutters, “This is a very dull page. What is on the next page?” – I was entranced. It only got better from there. Plot-wise, we learn that Grover is scared of being inside a book that has a monster at its end. Like a real, live, scary MONSTER. Who could blame him, right??? And that’s what this book is about. Nothing else.
But more importantly, I loved how my sister embodied Grover’s voice, mood, and gestures. She stepped into Grover’s lovable little scared soul and brought him to life. She made it fun. Even funner still, this was my FIRST experience with a piece of art that “breaks the fourth wall.” Grover was speaking directly to his readers – i.e. ME!!! How cool. I inevitably felt like I wanted to talk back to him, laugh at him, and try to soothe his fears about a monster being at the end of the book. Then the story gets downright serious – poor little distraught Grover starts TYING the pages together (so we can’t turn them). He then BUILDS a brick wall. My sister held the flimsy paper page like it was fifty pounds of bricks. But (hold your breath) – she turned the page. Unlike when Grover shouts, “YOU TURNED ANOTHER PAGE!” after the rope-tying incident, here Grover simply says – “Do you know that you are very strong?” Poor little guy has lost 80% hope. Only one furry, spindly blue arm pokes up out of the rubble. Pfff. Grover does NOT want us to get to the end of this book.
My sister was hilarious. I will always remember her shouting, “YOU TURNED ANOTHER PAGE!” And then her holding the paper page like it was a wall of bricks. Although I grew to anticipate these parts (because I read the book repeatedly), my anticipation never diminished the fun. My sister was like a skilled actress who always delivered, and always brought something unique to each new “take.” So it never got old. It always stayed fresh.
Now spoiler alert – the monster at the end of the book is actually Grover. Yup, it’s the sweet little blue one himself. He glances out of the book at his readers with a relieved and hearty smile. Oh boy – I always wanted to reach right through those pages and hug him. He was adorable. Not to mention safe and sound.
And that’s how I always felt when my sister read this book to me. She helped me to feel safe and sound. We all know how important that is for a child. I’m grateful to Kristyn for that.
Today I love that she has a little one named Charlotte who adores Sesame Street, Elmo, and the rest. And I LOVE that my niece, Charlotte, has a copy of “the MONSTER at the end of this Book” in her bookshelf. A book is a beautiful thing. Even one that has a monster.