Sketch Monsters, vol. 2

Sketch Monsters 2Summary: Tony’s nervous about his first day at a new school. Instead of acting normally, he tries being the class clown, the teacher’s pet, and sadly… even the bully. He draws his other identities as Monsters in his sketchbook. But Tony’s monsters escape all over the school! Thankfully, Mandy also goes to Tony’s school and can lend a helping hand! Can Tony and Mandy catch all of the new Sketch Monsters before they demolish the school?!

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Sketch Monsters, vol. 2, by Joshua Williamson and Vinny Navarrete 6.75

The second book in the ‘Sketch Monsters‘ series is a small departure from the original. While the first one focused on a girl who couldn’t feel her emotions and channeled them in her sketch book, this one is about a new kid who desperately tries to be liked at school.

His attempts at being liked are obnoxious and he fails miserably at every turn. But he is befriended by Mandy – just in time for his own monster drawings to escape his sketch books and run rampant through the school. With her help he will manage to return them to his book.

The differences here are substantive:

  • Tony’s monsters don’t represent anything. Mandy’s monsters were her way to channel her emotions and, thus, each represented an emotion. Tony’s monsters are merely caricatures of the personalities he took on at school.
  • While Mandy was helped by Happster and was taught to tune in to her emotions in order to get the monsters under control, Tony just has to make superficial realizations for the monsters to hop back into his book.
  • Tony’s monsters interact with the school children and caused havoc in the school. Mandy’s monsters, for all intents and purposes, have no real impact on the outside world. They only come in contact with her and Happster.

While these changes make this second volume less meaningful, it makes it easier for it to hit its intended target; all it’s trying to do is to teach kids to be themselves, not to pretend to be something they’re not just to be liked by others. It pulls it off.

Oh, sure, it’s tenuous at times and Tony’s bullying behaviour neither makes sense contextually, not does it conjure up a satisfying resolution (Mandy calls on all her monsters to beat up that one), but at least it doesn’t stumble like the other one does.

And for that reason alone I have to rate it more highly. It’s a less ambitious book, but it succeeds somewhat. Still, if I were a parent, I would wonder what value these books have, ultimately. Would kids get the message? Or is it too muddled for them?

Either way, I’m sure there are more clever books of this ilk out there. Too bad, though, because I love the core concept. I really wish that ‘Sketch Monsters’ had been developed more successfully. This could have been an entertain and meaningful set of books.

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