The Boy Who Made Monsters by Jenny Pearson, illustrated by Katie Kear

Publication Date: 6 July 2023

The Blurb

There are a lot of different types of monster. Some live at the bottom of lochs, some are found far out at sea and some swim about in the depths of your mind and these can be the scariest monsters of all – if you let them.

Benji McLaughlin is a visionary. He believes in things that other people think are impossible, like that he and his brother Stanley will be happy in their new home in Scotland, and that the Loch Lochy monster exists, and that his parents will come home safely one day, even though they’ve been missing for months.

When he finds out that his Uncle Hamish’s Loch Lochy tourist business is struggling, and it looks like Benji and Stanley might lose another home, Benji’s not worried. He has a plan. If he can show everyone that the Loch Lochy monster exists, people will flock to come and see it, and the business will flourish again.

Together with his new friend Murdy and Mr Dog, the best dog in the world, Benji sets off to capture evidence of the monster, even if he has to get a little creative. But Benji might end up confronting more monsters than he expects.

The Review

Buy tissues – you’ll need them from laughing and crying! The Boy Who Made Monsters is utterly, heartbreakingly beautiful storytelling, with Jenny’s trademark laugh out loud humour.

Jenny deftly handles the very difficult topic of parental death with empathy, grace and bags of humour. As we get to know Benji and Stanley, we experience their grief with them in different ways. Stanley is a ball of angry resentment and guilt, while Benji’s is denial born of the hope that his parents will come back. While initially driving the brothers apart as they begin again in Scotland with Uncle Hamish, it is also what binds them together as an altogether different issue emerges.

As Benji pushes his feelings deeper to focus on the here and now, his Loch Monster grows in size and complexity. I loved his friendship with Murdy, who just might have the best name I’ve read for a very long time. Their ability to bounce ever more ridiculous ideas off each other in a bid to bring Benji’s Loch Lochy Monster to life gets funnier as the story progresses, while she does her best to help his new friend in the only way she knows how.

Uncle Hamish is brilliant as the caring Uncle who has no idea how to parent his two newly arrived nephews. Their ability to play him like a fiddle when it comes to meals had me in stitches. And, Jenny perfectly captures the natural beauty of a Scottish Loch and its surroundings. We get to explore both the banks and the lake with Benji, Murdy and Mr Dog as their bring their money making schemes to life. Details like the tree embed Benji in his new home where his lost father grew up.

A brilliant read that left me with a big book hangover and a bigger pile of tissues.

The only question I have left is, will Benji EVER get his t-shirt back?

Huge thanks to Fritha and Usborne for sending me an early proof copy. I can’t wait to get my hands on a finished copy to see all of Katie’s fabulous illustrations.

Grief really is the blackest monster of all, one that we learn to live with. If you are struggling like Benji, please reach out and ask for help. Winston’s Wish is an amazing charity giving support and hope to grieving children. Julie Stokes book, You Will Be Okay is also an excellent read and helped me, as an adult, following the death of me Mam.


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