"The Monster at the End of this Book"

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Rebellion, destruction, metafiction-- that's what The Monster at the End of this Book is all about.  Lovable, furry old Grover implores you, emphatically, not to turn to the next page, because, per the title, there will be a monster at the end of the book.

Grover scrambles to build barriers to prevent you from turning each page, but you gleefully snap his ropes, splinter his barricade, and topple his brick wall.  You revel in destroying his creations, and feel schadenfreude at his mounting panic.  The payoff?  To get to the monster promised at the end, if the suspense doesn't kill you first.  For the more sensitive child, a dilemma arises over whether you continue to turn the pages and torment poor Grover (bullying is bad) or stop turning pages and never open the book again (but reading is good!). 

Grover somehow brings out the id in every child--in 1984, an interactive book for the Talk 'n Play came out titled Lovable, Furry Old Grover in Please Don't Push the Red Button.  The Talk 'n Play was like an audio "Choose your own adventure," where you'd push either the green, yellow, red, or blue buttons at key turning points to hear an audio track that corresponded with the path you chose.  In Please Don't Push the Red Button, the only object was not to push the red button, but that's what everyone did-- because something about Grover just makes you want to fight the power.  As he desperately pleaded, cajoled, and threatened you to please push any other button but the red one, you reveled in this newfound spirit of subversion, a nascent Brandoesque sense of anarchic rebellion against authority: "What are you rebelling against?" "Whaddaya got, Grover?"

Lesson learned:
If an authority figure tells you not to do something-- play with matches, hit your brother, run out into the street-- it is way more fun to actually do it!

(Alas, this is also the monster at the end of this blog.  I will try to continue to post when possible, but Grover here signals the end of regular weekday postings.  Whatever you do, please don't push the comment button.)

Stone, Jon.  The Monster at the End of this Book.  Illus. Michael Smollin.  New York: Golden P, 1971.
The Monster at the End of this Book (Sesame Street) (Big Little Golden Book)

1 comment:

  1. Gaaahh! Curse you rebellious instinct/reverse psychology! (I have been meaning to comment for a while.) I like the blog. I don't really remember being scared/traumatized by too much as a child (if your parents let you plop down in front of the tv while Predator is on when you're 5 and you don't run screaming from that huge monster (or from the alien--zing, Arnold!), then I don't think much can phase you). However, revisiting the same stories as an adult (especially an English major, analytically-trained adult) is retroactively disturbing. For example, I watched Pete's Dragon this weekend and was reminded of the horrors of the life of an orphaned street urchin that somehow didn't occur to me as a child.
    Again, I love the blog!