Friday, January 13, 2023


I am so honored to reveal the cover of Laura Shovan's new book of poems, 
with illustrations by Michael Rothenberg
(published by Loyola College/Apprentice House) 

Meet 16 weird and quirky monsters in art and poems! Monster neighbors, monster houses, monster moos, bubblegum monsters, hungry monsters, monster birthdays, chicken monsters, shy monsters, angry monsters, root monsters, sad monsters, micro monsters, monster bugs, and more. Hey, maybe monsters are just like us!

Author and poet Laura Shovan writes: 
I am a doodler. Robots are my favorite thing to draw because they’re made out of simple shapes: square heads, rectangular bodies, lines for arms and legs. My friend, the poet Michael Rothenberg, also loved to play through art.

A few weeks before the pandemic began, Michael messaged me. He’d drawn a blue monster with red lips and six pink feet! The monster was so cute that I was inspired to write a poem. I sent it off to Michael as a surprise.

Michael, who passed away in November, was a creative force. In no time, he sent me a second monster, and then a third and a fourth. It was impossible to keep up with his burst of artistic energy, but I tried. When I sat down with a monster and my poetry notebook, I learned to trust whatever thoughts and images showed up – just as my friend was doing with his drawings.

All through the pandemic, the monsters gave Michael and me a way to look at our fears and sadness, to express our silly sides and feelings of joy. I hope this book acknowledges that children are emotional creatures who “laugh and talk, play and cry, sing and dance… hide when they are afraid, cry when they hurt, kiss and hug when in love,” as Dr. Mercedes B. ter Maat says in her introduction to the book. And I hope that educators will use Welcome to Monsterville as a springboard for classroom conversations about sitting with strong emotions, rather than burying them or pushing them aside.

Laura Shovan is a children’s author, educator, and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. Her chapbook, Mountain, Log, Salt, and Stone won the inaugural Harriss Poetry Prize. Her work appears in journals and anthologies for children and adults. Laura’s award-winning middle grade novels include The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, Takedown, and the Sydney Taylor Notable A Place at the Table, written with Saadia Faruqi. Laura is a longtime poet-in-the-schools for the Maryland State Arts Council. She serves on the faculty of Vermont College of Fine Arts.

THANK YOU, Laura, for sharing your new book with us and honoring me with your special COVER REVEAL! Like everyone, I LOVE book covers and getting the flavor of the book based on this image. Clearly, Welcome to Monsterville is full of fun and it definitely makes me want to draw a monster! 

Head on over to Chicken Spaghetti where Susan is hosting our Poetry Friday gathering.


Tabatha said...

What a terrific collaborative project "Welcome to Monsterville" is. I'm curious about monster neighbors, micro monsters, and chicken monsters! That is a cute monster on the cover! It would make a great stuffed animal.

laurasalas said...

Thanks for sharing, Sylvia and Laura! I enjoyed hearing about how this book evolved from play. Fabulous! And I'm finding it ironic that I have to click "I'm not a robot" to leave my comment :>D

Mary Lee said...

I love hearing the story of how this book came to be. Such a work of the heart...TWO hearts, actually. Thanks for the cover reveal, Sylvia!

janice scully said...

I didn't know that Michael, the illustrator, had passed away. Wonderful that he could complete this. I look forward to seeing and reading this book.

Carol Varsalona said...

Sylvia, thank you for bringing Laura's new book to life. Your blog offers such and array of thoughts that I can visualize the monsters popping up in art frames ready for a poetry-rama of antics and poetic goodness. Best luck, Laura.

Susan T. said...

Such a sweet story about the origins of the book. I'm looking forward to reading it. Thanks for sharing the cover with us, Sylvia.

Patricia Franz said...

Such an important book for classrooms and a heart-tugging tribute to the friendship between Laura and Michael. I'm looking forward to reading these!

Kay said...

I loved hearing the story on how the book came to be. What a wonderful collaboration that grew into this lovely book. The cover is just adorable.