This trailer gives a really good feel for how Sophie's magical world fits in with the real world in A Monster Like Me. Compassion Makes Us Human! #OwnStories #Bullying #KidsNeedBooks #MentalHealth #MiddleGradeBooks
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We used an advanced readers copy (ARC) of A Monster Like Me as a Flat Stanley in China.
In the authors note, Wendy talks about her experience with a hemangioma as a child.
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Advanced Review - Uncorrected Proof
Issue: February 1, 2019
*A Monster Like Me. By Wendy S. Swore Mar. 2019. 304p. Shadow Mountain, $16.99 (9781629725550). Gr. 5-8
For as long as she can remember, Sophie has identified herself as a monster. She either shrouds her face with her long hair or hides behind her Big Book of Monsters to keep others from seeing the hemangioma on her face. She knows that people will think if she's disfigured on the outside, she must be on the inside.
Now, starting in her new school in Portland, she's speechless when a lively girl in her class (never even looking at her mark) declares they will be best friends. Smart, but self-consciously quiet, Sophie thinks she can identify other people as various types of monsters, witches, or fae folk. Bullies may surround her, but Sophie must confront her own fears. Will she ever allow herself to be “just a human girl?” Swore integrates The Big Book of Monsters into the fabric of the book by beginning each chapter with the
description of a different monster, creating a disruption in the first-person narrative but also adding insight into how Sophie views the world.
Swore's character-driven debut, in the vein of R. J. Palacio's Wonder
(2012), allows readers to step inside Sophie's thoughts and to understand and empathize with her, leaving them to wonder how they would react if they were Sophie.
--- J. B. Petty
A Monster Like Me
Wendy S. Swore
Shadow Mountain Publishing (Mar 5, 2019)
Hardcover $16.99 (304pp)
Sophie’s got a hemangioma—a sure sign that she’s a monster, she thinks. In Wendy S. Swore’s tender A Monster Like Me, the imaginative grade schooler battles isolation and bullying to discover that growing stronger sometimes means realizing that there’s more to life than meets the eye. Newly arrived in Portland, Sophie and her single mother, Marlene, find themselves settling into familiar patterns. Early chapters highlight Sophie’s self-protective measures, from wearing goggles to feigning illness. Armed with her beloved Big Book of Monsters—a comforting way to make sense of a threatening world—Sophie gradually learns that her insistence on fantasy is costing her relationships.
The book strikes a careful balance, depicting realistic cruelties in everyday encounters like schoolyard name-calling. Sophie’s shame and unease are rendered with heartrending clarity, alongside Marlene’s complicated love, which both protects Sophie and holds her back. Other characters, including a man disfigured in combat, serve as thoughtful counterpoints, showing Sophie how others live with physical differences. A more dramatic, inevitable plot turn jolts Sophie out of her bubble; she sees there are always people with more serious problems. The book shines in its portrayal of finding self-acceptance.
Pages from the monster book add occasional life tips and lead toward lessons in gratitude, and Sophie’s flights of inspiration set her on a search for a cure. If some characters seem too sweet—including Autumn, a girl who declares herself a best friend, and Autumn’s Irish grandmother, who brings old-world charm with her fairy tale cottage home—they also provide needed safety nets.
A Monster Like Me is an intelligent and provocative story about a memorable girl who discovers her own unique talents, reminding those around her that everyone—no matter how they look—feels love and pain.
"A unique, whimsical, look at what it means to be a monster . . . and a human!"
- New York Times bestseller Jessica Day George
"Rare is the book to make me smile even as is touches my heart. A MONSTER LIKE ME is uplifting, inspiring, and speaks to the power of friendship, courage, and kindness. This story will stay with me for a very long time."
- New York Times Bestseller Jennifer A. Nielsen
“There’s Magic in these pages. I’ve never wanted to be a monster more.”
- Best Selling Author Obert Skye
"Reading a Monster Like Me brought back all the fears, hopes, plans, and changes I experienced in middle school. I cringed, cheered, worried, and hoped right along with Sophie. This book touched my heart is so many ways. Read it with your kids, grand kids, or best friend. You’ll all be pulled into this magical coming of age story."
- Author J. Scott Savage
“Imaginative, fun, and thought-provoking! Sophie was so real and engaging and her story reminds us that we all may have a monster hidden inside us. I just hope mine’s not a Strzyga.”
- Author Frank Cole
"Sophie’s story grapples with the power of imagination and importance of reality. A sweet story that is funny, tender, and creative."
- Author Shelly Brown
Sophie’s story is dear to my heart since I know how it feels to be bullied because I looked different from everyone else. When I was a child, I had a hemangioma on my forehead that stuck out so far my bangs couldn’t cover it, no matter how hard my mother tried. Because the tumor was made up of blood vessels, I could feel my heart beating inside it when I was playing hard or really upset.
The incident at the grocery store where the hydra lady says, “Hey, look kids! That girl doesn’t need a Halloween costume. She’s already got one!” is an exact quote of what a woman once said to my mother and me. Another woman told a classroom full of kids that I had the mark of the devil. Kids asked if it was a goose bump, or hamburger, or if my brains had leaked out. My dad had to chase away some bullies who had followed me home, called me names, and pushed me into the street. Sometimes, after a bad day of bullying, I wished I could just rip the mark off my face and be like everyone else—but it was a part of me, and wishing didn’t change that.
My parents decided to take an active role in educating the people around me so they would know what a hemangioma was and understand that it wasn’t icky, or gross, or contagious. Whenever we moved to a new place, my dad would go with me to the elementary school and talk to the kids about my mark and let them ask questions. After those talks, kids befriended me and noticed when bullies came around. Like Autumn, my school friends would speak up when they saw someone being mean to me, and sometimes they would stand between me and the bullies until they left me alone. I didn’t let the bullies stop me from doing what I wanted to do. I climbed trees, went swimming, wrote poetry, brought my tarantula and snakes to show-and-tell, and played in the tide pools.
This is my message to anyone who experiences bullying: Don’t let the bullies define you! I’ve been there, I know it hurts to be teased, but don’t let it stop you from doing what you want. Find something you enjoy—a hobby, talent, or challenge—and
practice that skill. Know that someone out there, maybe even someone in your same school, needs a friend as much as you do. Be that friend. Stand up for each other. And know that you are not alone.
You can always find me at WendySwore.com, and I would love to hear your stories and what you thought of the book.
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